This review is spoiler-free.
“This is how we reveal ourselves: these tiny flashes of discomfort, the reactions we can’t hide.”
Published: 2017, by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance
Contains: Strong Language, Homophobia, Implied Sexual Content
‘Autoboyography’ tells the story of Tanner, a high school student desperate to get good enough grades to attend his dream university. While hoping for extra credit, he signs up to a seminar where you have three months to write a full draft of a novel. There, he meets Sebastian, a student teaching assistant with a novel soon to be published. With a Mormon background, Sebastian tries to conceal his sexuality, yet as the pair’s relationship develops, he’s soon confronted by it.
From the moment I first heard about this book, I knew I was going to adore it. The concept as a whole appeals to me, and after reading numerous five-star reviews I knew I had to give this a shot myself. As expected, I fell in love with it.
The novel is written through the eyes of protagonist, Tanner, who is a wonderful young man. Although, he’s frequent to mistakes, he immediately owns up to them and is the kind to wear his heart on his sleeve. Tanner is bisexual, a sexuality that isn’t explored in YA literature nearly as much as it should be, but isn’t out to anyone outside of his family. However, after a situation arises where he may have been outed somehow, he rises above it and embraces the situation; he’s confident in his own skin.
Sebastian, however, is Tanner’s opposite. With the exploration of religion and homosexuality, Sebastian’s character is fairly trapped for the majority of the novel. Deeply in love with his faith, yet unable to suppress his sexuality, Sebastian’s character experiences emotional turmoil which in turn is inflicted onto Tanner. This plot was incredibly gripping to read, exploring sexuality in a relatable and understanding way.
Personally, I know very little about religion and the Mormon way of life, however, this novel holds your hand through it all. With descriptions and dialogue between the pair, it’s incredibly easy to understand and sympathise with Tanner’s parents and Sebastian’s way of life. However, this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the Lauren’s beautiful writing style, making my heart ache on numerous occasions for the protagonists – enough that the climax made me shed a few tears for the couple.
Overall, ‘Autoboyography’ was an absolute joy to read. With an important plot and a selection of lovable characters, there needs to be more YA titles out there like this one.