by Robin Talley
“Fifteen-year-old Aki Hunter knows she’s bisexual, but up until now she’s only dated guys—and her best friend, Lori, is the only person she’s out to. When she and Lori set off on a four-week youth-group mission trip in a small Mexican town, it never crosses Aki’s mind that there might be anyone in the group she’d be interested in dating. But that all goes out the window when Aki meets Christa.”
Warning, Spoilers In Review!!!
Of Robin’s books, this is the one I would tell people to skip reading in favor for her other works. This book is a hot mess in a really, really, bad way.
First, there’s no plot. You think it will be about Aki learning to love music again or some sort of character growth of her finding out she is capable when she’s been told she isn’t. But that isn’t the case. There simply is no plot other than a relationship. And even then, it’s not even about the characters and growth, but about being a how-to for girl and girl sex and safe sex practices.
There is no character growth. Aki goes through the book doing things she knows she shouldn’t. She knows that Christa is seeing someone else but she goes with it. But when Lori says she’s doing the same, she’s utterly judgmental in a way that’s disgusting to read.
Both Christa and Aki are toxic with each other. Aki comes out to her family and thinks that Christa should too, despite being told multiple times that it’s dangerous for her to. Christa on the other hand is trying to force Aki back into the closet. Which is just as unhealthy and disgusting. And yet they keep doing this through the book.
The setting honestly doesn’t matter. The characters could be anywhere other than Mexico and nothing would change. It’s just a cheap way of making it seem ‘exotic’ despite not actually knowing anything about the place and how it would actually mean to be gay in Mexico. That, and the ‘chaperons’ are useless. The kids can go out and drink and have sex and they don’t bother to keep an eye on them. Trust me, that isn’t how these things work. And I’m sure a church group would be even more paranoid about keeping these things from happening.
This book felt a cheap tactic to make Churches look a safe haven for gay teens when in reality, churches can be dangerous and unaccepting. There are few churches that are okay with anyone that’s gay, let alone a rather large group of them that are happy to come out during this trip.
It simply didn’t feel like a story but a how to guide to being gay and having sex and trying to make churches feel safe and welcoming when it’s not something is luckily enough to happen at most. The thought of gay marriage is changing, but it’s slow and not as pretty as this book wants to make it seem. It was a completely frustrating read.
Rating: 2 stars