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Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales - Review

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Where did I get it? My partner bought it for me a few weeks ago as a gift. I had asked for it as I had had it recommended alongside Autoboyography

What's it about? It's sort of a modern retelling of Grease. Ollie has spent the summer at a lake house in North Carolina, where he met Will. The two of them got together and promised at the end of the summer that they would stay in touch, even though Ollie is from California way on the other side of the country. 

But then Ollie and his parents move to North Carolina. They were there over the summer because it's where Ollie's aunt Linda and her family live. Linda is sick with cancer and needed some help, and still does, so Ollie's parents are moving for at least a year. Which is Ollie's senior year of high school.

So he starts at his new school and immediately meets Juliette, who introduces him to her best friends, Niamh and Lara. Niamh is sweet but Lara is kind of a bitch. Ollie mentions that he's had a summer fling with a boy called Will and, you guessed it, it turns out he is the school's star basketball player. Ollie knew that Will was still closeted, but he isn't expecting the reaction he gets at a party in the first week, when Will totally ignores him. 

The basketball boys and Ollie and the girls do hang out. Darnell is desperate to go out with Niamh, and Michael and Lara are kind of flirty. But they tease Will about Ollie in a really homophobic way. Ollie ends up joining a band (which I LOVED!) but then he and Will get close again.

Aunt Linda and her husband and kids take up a lot of Ollie's time and there were bits here that I thought were really fanficcy and I switched on whether I liked those bits or not. I get that Will is closeted but he also really doesn't stick up for Ollie and is terrified of being thought gay by association, which annoyed me. 

The first half of the book really dragged for me. It's a quick easy read but I just couldn't get into it. But then it sort of changed and I felt like Ollie was a lot less passive. He settled into friendship with the girls which helped. I did feel like the timeline was confusing - there's a dance that I'm sure they said was after Christmas, but there's no mention of Christmas whatsoever? Not even a line. So that was weird. 

If I was judging on the first half of the book I would have scored it lower, but it did redeem itself somewhat in the second half and I enjoyed it. I liked Ollie's friendships and the girls are SO FIERCE, I loved them. I would LOVE a second book starring those girls. But I did feel it had its problems. 

What age range is it for? I'd say from 15 upwards. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, Ollie is gay and his family knows that and accepts it. There's some excellent bisexual representation too, which I won't go into because it would spoil the story, but I really liked it. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Will is Venezualan so has brown skin, but that's not mentioned much. Juliette and Niamh are both black. The high school in general seemed pretty diverse. I don't know if that's true of North Carolina, but I appreciated it within the book. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No, although maybe Linda's cancer would count there. It's not too big a part of the book. 

Is there any sex stuff? No, it's very not graphic. I actually felt like Ollie was a bit nonsexual at times. There are very brief flashbacks to Ollie and Will at the lake falling in love but it's not sexual. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so. There's some alcohol use, which I really liked to see on page. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes. It's done really well, but may be upsetting. 

Are there swear words? Yes! I actually really liked this. There's a few examples of 'fuck' and 'fucking'. They're really natural, I loved them 

What criticisms do I have? I think I've mentioned them above. I wanted to love this a lot more, but the first half really went slow for me. I also felt like we didn't really understand why Ollie liked Will so much for a while, which made it hard to care about Ollie's feelings or about Will in general. He really does act like a dick and I struggled to see his side. Even though Ollie does!

Would I recommend the book? Yes, if this kind of book is your jam, or if you like the sound of it from the premise

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? It was one of the twenty books hanging round down the side of my bed which I am trying to get to ASAP!

What do I think of the cover? I like it. Sorry for the rubbish photo - I took it in very early morning light and it shows!

What other books is it like? It's like Autoboyography in parts, I think. 

How many stars? Four out of five. It redeemed itself from three.  

Where is the book going now? I will probably keep it. 

Sorry if this post looks weird. Blogger have changed their interface and it is very confusing to use. I keep these questions in a Word document and I think copying them across might have broken the formatting. I'm sorry!

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