Title : Autoboyography
Author : Christina Lauren
Publisher : Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Rating : 5/5
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
“His smile ruins me.”-Christina Lauren, Autoboyography
So last weekend I went to the Baltimore County Public Library to FINALLY get a library card. My boyfriend was very much on board with that decision as it means I will buy fewer books (at least, I let him believe that). I picked up five titles that I recognized from bookstagram but wasn’t necessarily interested in enough to buy. Autoboyography was one of them, as I tend to go on YA Fantasy kicks and forget that I also really like YA Contemporary. So, this was my change up book and holy smokes I read it all in one sitting. My favorite books are the ones that can make me invested in the character’s and their happiness.
Tanner Scott is an awkward high school senior who falls immediately in love with an unavailable college boy. His awkwardness in social situations with Sebastian had me cringing in embarrassment for him, which is the mark of a well-written novel in my eyes. Why is Sebastian unavailable you ask? He is a Mormon, and well, expected to be straight. Bit of a dilemma for a bisexual boy from the West Coast, where he is used to being accepted for his sexuality. In Utah, he has to hide the truth from everyone, as the religion is pervasive in the community. Even his mother is originally Mormon, until she was excommunicated.
Let’s get back on track. This novel had all the pieces I look for in Contemporary. When I pick up a Contemporary novel, it should be a fun and easy read. I was able to quickly dive into this world and immediately root for these characters. So let’s start there. Tanner and Autumn have a boy/girl friendship that will stand the test of time. There is the unfortunate reality that Autumn has some more than friends feels for Tanner, but it just adds to the drama of their dating life. These two are going through life just trying to survive until they can move out of Utah, as neither of them are Mormon. In walks Sebastian, the sexy TA for their Novel Writing class. He is sent immediately to help Tanner (who like any boy is behind on school work) and it was love at first sight, except for the reality that it won’t be able to work. Sebastian is deeply invested in his religion; his father is the bishop and he is only putting off his mission as he is publishing a novel and has to go on his book tour first. He fully believes in his religion and the rules set by the church, which is admirable. I love all these characters, and want to treasure them forever.
The problem, now, is that Sebastian also loves Tanner, but can’t accept that sexuality. It is expected that he marry soon, and marry a woman. He and Tanner have this deeply contentious and illicit tryst as the book continues. The hidden romance tickles that deep part of me that loves secrecy and sneaking around. NO ONE can know about them, which obviously won’t work forever. I won’t post any serious spoilers, but the middle-end is amazing and a beautiful sentiment to true love and self-acceptance.
Christina Lauren’s writing style flows easily and allows you to get sucked into this world where religion is everything and outsiders are to be kept at a distance. It is a coming of age story and the LGBTQIAP rep is so needed at this point in time. It gives me heart when characters casually have same sex relationships and the rep honestly needs to continue to grow. Add in the complexities of sexuality and religion? And you have my attention.
Go pick this one up if you’re looking for a heartwarming, easy, beach read that will make you internally cheer for the character’s triumphs and cringe for their awkwardness.