Title: Andy Squared
Author: Jennifer Lavoie
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Genre: YA LGBT
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher – The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams. All’s right with the twins…or is it?
When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode. But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.
*Synopsis taken from Goodreads
My Review: Andy Squared starts out like a lot of other YA novels – teens in their senior year of high school, just trying to live out the rest of the year before fully figuring out what to do with the rest of their lives. Our main characters are twins Andrew and Andrea, who have always done basically the same thing. Both soccer stars, in the same position on their respective teams, with Andrea seeming to think things are going to remain the same when they go off to college.
Their differences start to show to the reader when Andrew begins thinking he might want something other than what his sister has previously settled upon as a mutual decision. From the start, Andrea seems a little unhealthily attached to doing everything with her brother, but I may be a little biased. It always grated on me growing up when my siblings wanted to do all that I was doing. With that in mind, it annoyed me every time Andrea insisted she and Andrew were going to the same college, to play the same position on the soccer teams, and lead parallel lives indefinitely. I don’t think this is bad writing, in fact I think it does a great job of illustrating how the twins are growing apart even before Andrew really figures out just how different he really is.
To an extent, I avoid reading coming out stories. The mistreatment of LGBTQ youth is a cause dear to my heart, but reading about it can be really hard when there are thousands of It Gets Better videos out there to pull at my heart strings. Because of all that, this is really the first fiction I’ve read in this genre. There were parts I truly felt overwhelmed by and completely overcome by emotion.
I think kids are pretty cruel as it is, and it’s harder to swallow when that cruelty is focused on something as unimportant as another person’s sexuality. There are a few scenes that gave me pause because they took me back to memories of my own senior year of high school, especially in light of the fact that I was reading this on the anniversary of Matthew Sheppard’s death. While being gay isn’t a choice, how you react to your loved ones coming out is, and I think we’ve all seen people react in positive and negative ways. Reading about that array of reactions was difficult for me because I don’t think I’ll ever understand intolerance when it comes to this particular situation.
These scenarios are described in such a realistic way that it makes me wonder about the author’s personal experiences with the LGBTQ community when she was a teen. I wouldn’t be surprised if her story was similar to mine, and I’m glad she wrote this story regardless of her personal history. It was a lovely journey to take and makes me hope I can personally ease the coming out of more teens going forward.
Read this book if: I think that understanding and becoming comfortable with the gay community is an important step in the lives of every youth around the world. As a result, I would recommend this to anyone who has questions about what it might be like to come out, or to have someone come out to you.
My Rating: 4/5 – Borderline amazing!