Little, Brown. Sept. 2021. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780759557512.
Gr 9 Up–Julian, a high school senior in Meridien, Texas, has been growing into his role as captain of the football team, and thinks planning the annual prank against the school’s rival will be the hardest part of his senior year. But things get complicated when his former friend and fellow football player, Elijah, shows up at his house and Julian’s grandmother informs him that Elijah will be staying with them until his family moves back to town in a few weeks. Julian is full of questions about a kiss he and Elijah shared three years ago and wonders why Elijah left Meridien afterward without saying goodbye. Chapters alternate between the two characters’ perspectives, exploring small-town secrets, high school traditions, and the pressure of living up to other people’s expectations. Julian and Elijah are cued as white. Julian’s best friend, Camille, has “curly hair” and is Latinx. While the book creates a vivid picture of football culture in a small town, the narration lacks believability, with teen characters using expressions like “good gravy,” “purloined,” and “tighter than a tick.”
VERDICT It is exciting to see more books featuring queer love stories, especially ones that take place in Texas, but an uneven execution and the availability of exceptional LGBTQIA+ options make this a secondary purchase.

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