Social Skills by Sara AlvaPublished by Sara Alva
Blurb: Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison.
Jared’s attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor’s self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?
Review: Connor is shy. The rest of his family, on the other hand, lie on the opposite end of the introvert/extrovert spectrum and just don’t get why Connor is the way he is. The constant criticism from his parents and his inability to relax and speak freely around others have torn down his self-esteem over the years. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely, and now that Connor is in his freshman year of college, he finds that he is both. He wants to make friends. It’s just so hard.
"Rebecca rolled her eyes and the banter continued, right over Connor’s head. He chewed and swallowed methodically, nodding and smiling when he felt it appropriate, and silently wishing he were a more interesting person so he could quit being a shadow on the sidelines of his own life."The frisbee scene in chapter one nearly brought me to tears because it’s so real. That’s exactly what it’s like for a shy person trying to fit in. We try and we fail. And it hurts. But we suck it up and go on because that’s just who we are. Sara Alva perfectly captures what it’s like to be shy. I’ve experienced so many of the same feelings as Connor. My heart went out to him time and time again as I watched him struggle to overcome his social anxiety.
Not only has Sara Alva developed a rich, three-dimensional character in Connor, but the other characters in the novel are also well fleshed out. Connor’s relationship with Rebecca builds slowly and evolves into a beautiful friendship. His rocky relationship with Jared, an athlete who is part of the “in-crowd”, is portrayed realistically as well. It isn’t easy for these boys to move forward in their relationship, but they care enough about each other to try. It’s hard to see them hurt, but easy to empathize with them–and even easier to root for them as a couple and hope for a happy ending!
Review by Madison