Author: Alex Sanchez
Publisher: S & S Childrens
Published: April 19, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemps, LGBT
Source: Galley Grab
Lance has always known he was gay, but he's never had a real boyfriend. Sergio is bisexual, but his only real relationship was with a girl. When the two of them meet, they have an instant connection--but will it be enough to overcome their differences?
Allie's been in a relationship with a guy for the last two years--but when she meets Kimiko, she can't get her out of her mind. Does this mean she's gay? Does it mean she's bi? Kimiko, falling hard for Allie, and finding it impossible to believe that a gorgeous girl like Allie would be into her, is willing to stick around and help Allie figure it out.
Lance, Sergio, Allie and Kimiko are the teens next door living and loving in suburbia, doing their best to navigate high school, relationships and their identities all at the same time. Lance has been out for a while, Sergio swings both ways and has been comfortable with it, Kimiko can't believe a girl like Allie might be in her league after all. These four friends are on a collision course that will, inevitably, bring them together as friends or tear them apart based on stereotypes and prejudices in society. All the while though, the four must learn and come to terms with who they really are inside and what that means for those around them.
I'll just say this outright - Boyfriends with Girlfriends is far from my comfort zone in YA literature, but when I made the decision to read more contemporary fiction this year, I meant that in its entirety. I have no qualms with LGBT storylines and, in fact, find them to be some of the most poignant within the genre of YA fiction. Alex Sanchez takes a decidedly upfront approach in Boyfriends with Girlfriends, never mincing his words or hiding behind hidden agendas. Preaching tolerance, growth and the overwhelming need for everyone to be comfortable with who they are, Boyfriends with Girlfriends is brimming with a message that is powerful and needed in society today.
There are two sides to what I just said though. Some books take a delicate tone when directing a reader towards a message. Boyfriends with Girlfriends was not one of these books. It was extremely direct from page one, illustrating very vividly that whether one is bi, gay, curious or straight, we are who we are. None if it is a cop-out and none if it is a lie. In a book like Boyfriends with Girlfriends, I think this approach works, and though it's not my favourite take on literature, I got what I was supposed to get from the book. The characters were likable and approachable (especially Sergio - his confusion was accessible and believable), the relationships between families and friends were honest and true to form, but I have to say that it was all a bit overshadowed by the prominence of the message. It's not a bad thing, but I prefer subtleties, if you know what I mean.
All in all, Boyfriends with Girlfriends was a good book. No, it wasn't my favourite by a long shot, but it had a strong message that I think is often lacking in YA fiction. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to those who enjoy the YA genre, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction and LGBT storylines.
I received this eARC free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.