Felix Love has never been in love, but he really wants to.
Felix is a transboy attending a prestigious art program during the summer. He has his best friend Ezra and he knows who he is. He is a black, queer, transboy, and no one can take that away from him. But Felix isn’t working on his final project, he’s painted nothing, thought of nothing, and has had no motivation to start on it. Then there’s the fact that he needs this in order to secure a scholarship to Brown University, but he has to go up against his ex-friend, Declan, who spends all his time being an asshole to Felix. He’s also starting to question his gender, and is struggling to understand what he feels and what it all means. And then one day Felix comes to school and there’s a gallery of his old instagram photos and his deadname printed underneath. In an effort to find out who did it and get revenge, Felix makes some questionable choices, and he’s going to have to face the consequences.
Felix is a really dynamic character. He feels so alive on the page. I really enjoyed hearing him describe his world, his thoughts and feelings. The connection you make with Felix is a tender one and it grows as the story does. I really loved Felix’s gender exploration. The fear associated with coming out and then maybe not being what you came out as is so real and intense and it’s captured so well. It’s so common for people to come out as one thing and then find out later that something else fits better. Coming out is not finite, it flows with you and sometimes it stays the same, and sometimes it shakes things up and that’s fantastic. There is a lot of satisfaction and happiness when Felix finds what fits him and that’s the best.
His relationship with Ezra is amazing. They share such an intense and intimate bond and rely on each other so much more than they even realize. There’s something about these two that makes you believe they’re real. They just talk to each other, listen to each other, respect each other like real people do and while not all of their conversations are good ones, they are having good conversations. Ezra is wealthy and has a lot of privilege because of it and Felix has had a really hard life and definitely doesn’t hang around the crowd Ezra’s parents do. Felix was frustrated by this and Ezra’s behavior, and he says so to Ezra and while Felix knows and feels that it is jealousy that fuels these thoughts, they’re still talking about what they’re feeling. Sure, Felix is jealous, but we all experience jealousy. I think it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t at any point felt jealous of someone else. I just don’t think you’ll find as many people who have actually confronted that jealousy and those feelings and communicated with those people. Like, that’s real emotional maturity. Felix isn’t as messy as people make him out to be.
In fact, I think people calling Felix “messy” is a little… I don’t know, sad. Yeah he’s a little messy, but it’s not because of the main actions of the book. Felix is making decisions, yes poor ones, but he is making these decisions with no experience to tell him how to act. He’s a teenager, not an adult. He is impulsive and is dealing with the typical power/control messiness that comes with being a teenager. He doesn’t have a couple decades of life to draw upon to know not to do some things. I think the adults that read young adult really need to keep in mind that they’re reading from a teenager’s perspective and teenagers are “messy” because they are literally children. I would hate for someone to tell me I was a messy person just because I stayed in a toxic friend group in high school.
People love this book and for good reason. It’s beautifully written, explores topics wonderfully, and let’s its character have faults and redemption. I think it’s more than likely you’re going to like this book so what’s stopping you? Go read!