Jay’s Gay Agenda

HarperTeen. Jun. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063015159.
Gr 9 Up–Out gay teen Jay lives in a tiny rural town where he doesn’t know any other out LGBTQIA+ kids. As he watches his friends date and celebrate relationship milestones, he can’t help but feel like he is missing out on life. When his mother announces that she has earned a promotion and the family will be relocating to the progressive, urban Seattle area, Jay is thrilled to start crossing items off his “gay agenda”—chief among which are his goals of finding a boyfriend and losing his virginity. All seems to be going to plan when he meets sweetly nerdy Albert, experienced Tony, and vibrant, genderqueer Max who signs on to be his “Gay Guide” through relationships. Suddenly Jay’s life has endless options, but he soon finds that along come endless complications, and it’s tough to celebrate his newfound happiness when his childhood best friend, Lu, has fallen on hard times. Readers will appreciate the positive, affirming setting, where there is virtually no homophobia and many diverse characters, including Albert, who is Asian, while Jay, Max, and Tony are white. Jay is a realistically flawed character who unintentionally harms friends as he throws himself into new relationships, and although his actions often seem self-absorbed, many will relate to the joy he feels to finally be freely himself.
VERDICT A sweet celebration of finding love in all its forms. Recommended for fans of Phil Stamper and Leah Johnson.

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