It’s not easy for a young gay artist like Jordan Carson to grow up in Jefferson, Wisconsin, where all anyone seems to care about in middle school and high school are the sports teams. But Jordan was lucky. He met Owen Nelson in the second grade, and they’ve been BFFs ever since. Owen is a big, beautiful blond and their school’s champion wrestler. No one messes with Owen, or with anyone close to him, and he bucks popular opinion by keeping Jordan as his wingman even after Jordan comes out at school.
Their friendship survives, but Jordan’s worst enemy may be himself: he can’t seem to help the fact that he is head-over-heels in love with a hopeless case – his straight friend, Owen. Owen won’t let anything take Jordan’s friendship away, but he never counted on Jordan running off to find a life of his own. Owen will have to face the nature of their relationship if he’s to win Jordan back.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland more than I do now….I’m SO late! How did I miss this? How did it escape me? How has everyone I trust book rec’s from read it and loved it…and I’ve not read it yet? *blank blink* I don’t know. What I DO know is this; I’ve finally read it or listened to be precise and it certainly deserves all the praise it’s received. I LOVED it. This is one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to and I want to listen again! I don’t usually do audio repeats but I’m making an exception with this one. I can’t seem to get enough!
One of Easton’s (many) strong suits would have to be her characters. Owen and Jordan are without a doubt two of her best so far. I’ve listened to Tristan narrate before and enjoyed him but this was superb. He absolutely nailed it. I might have clicked backwards a few times but never because I was lost, only because I wanted to experience the scene with a dreamy smile a second time. And that’s exactly how I felt when I listened….in a dreamland. I’ve been around the block with Eli enough to know she’s not going to break my heart. So, as much as I felt badly for their (extremely) long dance, I knew the passionate combustion was going to be worth it. And it was. These two best friends have been inseparable since grade school. Jordan is an artist and has the best sense of humor. Owen is a wrestling warrior. His entire life has been grooming him for his shining moment on the mat. But being gay and wrestling aren’t the best mix, especially in his family. So any niggles Owen might have about his true sexuality must be boxed up tight and pushed away. But after years of Jordan at his side, Owen is confronted with a terrifying decision. And this is what brings me to what I loved most….
The boys are young when they meet and still young when they must make forever decisions. But nothing felt immature or juvenile about this story. They are funny, sweet and endearing. Owen tackles everything in his life with a matter of fact approach and resolute convictions. Once he reaches a decision, nothing can sway him. He has always loved Jodry. He has always been very protective of him. He has always wanted him right by his side. It’s not a big secret that his best friend is in love with him but he’s made it clear that he doesn’t feel the same. And Jordan has always been okay with that, willing to take Owen any way he can. If it’s limited to platonic (very close platonic) status than so be it. Until Jordan admits that he is preventing himself from moving on when he is attached at the hip with Owen. He can’t fall for anyone else when he’s so deeply in love with Owen. So he makes the hardest choice he’s ever made and breaks his own heart in the process. Until he wakes up and discovers maybe all his dreams are destined to come true after all. I mean, Pin boy and Pencil Man must get their happy ending, right? *sigh* Such a lovely and memorable story. I am so grateful I finally had my time to smile with them.
YA books tend to barely simmer when it comes to heat levels. Although the smexy is low-key, it’s perfect for the story. There is some off page bullying with a character we don’t know that should be noted and as a result, this classmate took his own life. Despite all the high school struggles, there is a very happy ending.
YA lovers, best friends to lovers fans and of course, Eli Easton fans. Even if YA or NA isn’t your typical go-to, I urge you to give this one a chance. It is definitely worth it. And I would highly recommend the audiobook as well. Wright knocked it out of the park.