Out of the Blue

­HarperTeen. May 2022. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063015203.
Gr 9 Up–In this LGBTQIA+ and sex-positive stand-alone novel, Crest is a male-presenting Mer who goes on the traditional Mer Journey, above “the blue” to help a human on land for four weeks. During this time Mers have a choice to stay on the land and lose their tails forever, or return to the blue when their Journey is complete. When Crest’s Journey becomes about helping handsome human Sean makes his ex jealous, Crest begins to wonder what life would be like on land forever. June once again brings readers refreshingly authentic teen hormones and emotions, while adding a queer spin on a classic dating trope. Crest does not have a gender, but is male-presenting, and Sean identifies as gay. Additionally, all of the secondary characters are LGBTQIA+. There are a few explicit sex scenes, though the characters remain safe and consensual, reaffirming the importance of both to teen readers. However, there are enough similarities to the author’s debut title Jay’s Gay Agenda (including lists throughout, similar naïve protagonists accidentally making a huge foolish hormone-fueled mistake, and the sex scenes taking an explicit turn out of nowhere) to wonder if the book has enough stand-alone merit; it is unclear if this is a stylistic choice or the author playing it safe.
VERDICT While June is well on his way to being a must-read YA author, this book is not there yet. Recommended purchase for large collections and where LGBTQIA+ books are popular.

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