Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Boyfriends with Girlfriends

Media Type: Book
Title: Boyfriends with Girlfriends
Author: Alex Sanchez
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: Hardcover; 224
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Source: GalleyGrab
Intended Reading Group:
Young Adult

Content Screening:
Mild language; Sexual situations

HDB Rating:
3 Keys to My Heart

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.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends is Alex Sanchez at his best, writing with a sensitive hand to portray four very real teens striving to find their places in the world--and with each other.

Let me start out by saying that I was completely excited at the prospect of reading this book. I fully believe that Alex Sanchez's message is something that needs to be out there. He not only addresses the concepts of homosexual and straight, but also tackles the much debated idea of being bi-sexual. As a person who works with children, I know that there are a lot of young people out there sitting on the same fence that Allie and Sergio are in this book. Not quite sure what side they fall on, they are trapped somewhere in between and ridiculed for it. That being said, I really wanted to love this book. Sadly, it missed that mark for me.

The first thing that struck me when I opened Boyfriends with Girlfriends was the writing style. Written almost entirely in dialogue, the story skips between the viewpoints of the four characters in an almost manic way sometimes. In fact, certain conversations took place in just one paragraph. It was a little disconcerting to say the least, but the saving grace was definitely in the actual dialogue itself. Sanchez paints the reader some extremely accurate personality types for each of his characters, and that is what I fell in love with.

From the heart pattering gorgeousness of Sergio through Lance's eyes, right on down to the questioning thoughts of Allie, the dialogue really brings these characters to life. I was incredibly impressed with the depth and complexity that each character possessed. Kimiko, for example, isn't just a cultural stereotype of a Japanese girl. Instead she is her own shining personality, from her boyish clothes to her love of sweet adolescent poetry. I won't lie when I say she was my favorite character in the book. Each character however had their own charm, and I kind of transported back to high school as I followed them. These could be kids that I actually knew.

Sadly, my love for these characters couldn't overshadow the simple fact that the message Sanchez was trying to convey was being beat to death. Although I really enjoyed the snippy and witty dialogue, it seemed like all the characters ever did was discuss their sexuality and their relationships. I liked that I got to see a little further into each of them through that, but I would really have liked to know more about where they came from. It was hard for me to believe that four friends would just sit around all day and discuss nothing but relationships. 

I'll be completely honest when I say that I nearly didn't make it through Boyfriends with Girlfriends.  It wasn't at all the subject matter that pushed me away from the book, but rather the way that it was delivered. What it really reminded me of was an after school special. You know, the ones where the topic is attacked mercilessly until something happens and everything ends up just as it should be? Yes, sadly that is this book. I can't imagine that teenagers are going to appreciate such heavy-handedness in a book. Really I worry that this fact is going to keep such an important message, such great characters, from reaching the audience who truly needs them. Teenagers aren't always as forgiving with "in your face" tactics as adults. I only hope they'll finish the book and see the merit in it like I did.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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