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.
OPINION: 3 STARS
The Short Version:
Blending a coming of age story with LGBT issues, Boyfriends with Girlfriends gives the human side of these relationships. Centering around four teens, each with a common ground but different individual issues, this books has plenty of funny and sweet moments interspersed through the meat of things. Though jumpy in focus and rushed overall, the message is strong and clear.
The Extended Version:
Lance is a sweet guy, seemingly stereotypical as being gay at the start but proves to have great depth and an all around well fleshed out personality. Openly gay both at school and with his family, Lance is a case of having been born that way and never really known anything else. Lucky to have not endured too many hardships on account of it, Lance still wants a relationship with someone who isn't afraid to be with him. He has his own shortcomings and misgivings, but makes good strides overall. Though he's slightly hypocritical in his view that someone is either gay or straight rather than bi, despite the same view that no one is gay that is pitted against him, his honest intentions and reasons are there.
Allie is straight at the start, or so she thinks, and in a long term relationship with what seems to be a great guy. Her story is a poignant one of self discovery and trying to navigate mixed feelings, more worried about simply not knowing than actually being a lesbian. Allie was a character that is easy to relate to no matter a girl's orientation, and holds a great sympathetic element.
Sergio is cocky and sure of himself, and a strong player for being bisexual. His reasons and explanations are valid and well presented, and he has an interesting personality that flew off the pages. Though he's been hurt in the past, and certainly made his share of mistakes, the impact Lance has on him is fantastic.
Kimiko comes off, at the start, as being a clash of sterotypes: butch and Japanese, but as the story progresses, the depth and intricacies of this particular character stands out the most. Torn between what her family expects and what she wants and feels, Kimiko's struggle seems to be the most endearing and relatable. She has a great personality and a certain softness about her that lets her leave a lasting impression.
The story itself revolves around these four teens trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in with the others. Each with their own specific struggle, the overall thread is strong though admittedly a little too in your face in playout. Though their interactions were great, several other events and confrontations were too rushed and had too smooth of a resolution to fully hit on the realism note. This one felt like it was potentially trying a little too hard on the personalities and defining the characters by their orientations, and less letting them just be teenagers that are trying to figure things out.
The writing in this one made it hard for me to really connect with any of the characters. Done in third person, it skipped minds rapidly and within the same paragraph, in a way that was a little hard to follow all the time. More focused on dialogue and the exact here and now, this one felt like it lacked description to really pull me in and make me feel like I'm there. Despite this, the voices are clear and strong.
Though lacking a strong way to pull the reader in, and rushed in a few too many places, Boyfriends with Girlfriends does a great job of putting people behind the labels. Battling a few different issues, this one certainly handles most things with grace and in a sympathetic manner that won't offend, but also doesn't flinch away. Despite having four central characters, their individual personalities are fleshed out and different, allowing the reader to separate them easily.
Source: ARC received for review from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: April 19, 2011