It has to be said: I do love nerd/jock romances. Maybe this has to do with the fact that, being somewhat of a bookish type myself, the idea of the geek landing the hot guy really appeals to me. Or perhaps it’s simply that there’s something incredibly touching about two individuals, considered to be at opposite ends of the social spectrum, disregarding expectations to be together. Whatever the reason, it’s a formula that presses all my buttons, and this latest novel by Jeff Erno is no exception.
In many ways, sixteen-year-old Wesley Harris is lucky. His family and close friends have been extremely supportive since he came out to them, and also encourage him to pursue his creativity, in particular his talent for designing T-shirts. At school, however, his shyness and artistic nature have always made him a target for bullies, who subject him to a constant barrage of homophobic taunts and physical humiliations. So, when baseball jock Brad Johnson moves in next-door, Wesley can’t help but be wary, uncertain as to how the other boy will behave towards him.
The one thing he doesn’t expect is that Brad will be anxious to get to know him. Yet, the holding up of written notes from their bedroom windows quickly develops into sharing confidences, and Wesley discovers Brad’s life isn’t as straightforward as he imagined. In addition to coping with his parents’ divorce, he is struggling with the realization that he may be bisexual. Before long, their friendship has deepened into something more, and Wesley is head over heels in love. But with the school bullies to contend with, not to mention the prejudice from Brad’s own father, does their fledgling romance stand a chance?
Easy to read, with heroes who will surely arouse your sympathy, this is a feel-good story following two very different boys as they fall in love and learn to be comfortable with who they are. Most of all, it’s a story about the fight against bullying, of standing up and refusing to be a victim. There are so many young people currently going through what Wesley has to endure, and this book is a wonderful illustration of how things truly can get better.
If you’re seeking a sweet young adult novel that’s rich with optimism, and you share my soft spot for nerd/jock romances, this may well be one for your to-read list.