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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You Belong With Me by Jeff Erno True Colorz Honor Roll

You Belong With Me by Jeff Erno

Published by Harmony Ink Press
164 Pages

Blurb: High school junior Wesley Harris is a stereotypical shy, soft-spoken nerd. He is obsessed with crafts and art and doesn't even need to come out of the closet to become the target of antigay bullying. Though he has the support of close friends and liberal-minded mother, he finds it hard to believe in himself.

Brad Johnson, Wesley's new neighbor, is Wesley's age-and his complete opposite. A popular jock and hero of the school's baseball team, Brad has an outgoing personality and a reputation as a ladies' man. When he and Wesley are alone, away from their classmates' scrutiny, they become friends despite their differences. But when Wesley confesses to wanting more than friendship, Brad walks away, unwilling to risk their romance being exposed.

Though devastated, Wesley resigns himself to accept that they were never meant to be. The next time he runs afoul of bullies, school counseling empowers him to report them. Encouraged by his new confidence, he decides to attend the school dance and face Brad....

Review: As a former teenage nerd myself (who is now an adult nerd), it's nice to see the nerdy, quiet kids get the popular jocks.

I think what I loved most about this book is how unashamedly gay Wesley is. He's effeminate and he says it himself. I loved that about him. So many gay teen books now focus on kids who could probably pass for straight. Wesley will not deny that he loves crafting, he's scrawny, and his voice is higher pitched than he'd like. And then there's Brad, his complete opposite. And that's OKAY because there are gay teens from every spectrum out there!
So did that make me the "girl" in the relationship? And if so, was there something wrong with that? Should I think badly of myself because I liked the idea of Brad protecting me? I liked knowing that he was a lot stronger than me but chose to handle me with tender loving care. And last night, when he had his arms around me, I loved that feeling of being so much smaller than him.
I really felt this book. I teared up whenever Wesley did, and my chest got tight whenever I thought he was hurting. I connected with him because of how similar I was to him in school. Granted he may be a gay teenage boy and I'm a straight adult woman, but that just goes to show the skill of the author to be able to bridge that gap. What he went through in school with the bullying, I did too. And my mother was just as supportive as his is when I was in high school.

This book was a lovely read that was over far too fast. I loved the epilogue, though. It made me smile the entire time.

Review by Jennifer

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