Getting Gay, by Bryce Hunter

Things aren’t always as they seem, and this novel really takes that to heart. From beginning to end it was full of surprises, taking directions I didn’t see coming. 
Hearing tales of the Mormon church in Utah, I had to check this out. The stunning accuracy of Mormon family life made this feel like a memoir. Noah’s growing up, and his strict upbringing is clashing with his growth and development as a child. This novel really leans into the “prejudices are taught” line of thinking and I liked how it was demonstrated. 
There was plenty of conflict to go around, both internal and external. Noah’s pressures to fit in at school, church, and home lead him down an almost self-destructive path. Regardless of anything else however, I was happy to see that he was shown with an okay support group. Something many people lack because of said prejudices, but this demonstrates that those can be set aside to help someone out. 
I was a little confused as to why, in one household, a certain lifestyle was perfectly normal and acceptable, when this character continually bashed on another lifestyle. That’s the only part in the novel that didn’t really make sense, though I’m glad the differing lifestyles were included. 
As I said before, this novel is full of surprises and the ending was the biggest. I was a big fan. Noah’s character development from kid to adult was stellar, and I enjoyed the finale conflict resolutions. There was almost a spiritual feel to it. 
Overall an excellent, and different, read. Wonderful characters and development, beautiful storytelling, and it’s able to surprise the reader. Well done. 
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Floating Upstream, by Jo Vraca

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Coming of age genre really felt defined in this novel. Julia’s life is already defined for her: arranged marriage, a family at eighteen, and absolutely no say whatsoever as to what she gets to do. With an abusive father, a compliant mother, and the draw of freedom with a boy she loves, her life just got a lot more difficult. I think it’s the kind of trapped feeling that many people can identify with, and it plays a huge role in the narrative. 
All in all, this was a really sweet tale. Lots of positivity to go with the bad. It felt raw and real; a reflection of real life. A fictional memoir, almost. Julia’s life genuinely sucks, but she remains a dreamer. She has a small support group with her brother and some gypsies, and they help keep her grounded and focused. Friendship and love were huge themes, and they are brought to light in a wonderful,whimsical way. 
Narrator tone maintains that whimsical feeling. The reader experiences Julia’s longing, heartache, and indecision in a way that will make their heart clench. Emotions were evoked in a purposeful and in-your-face manner. Nothing was sugar coated. That really enhanced the reader experience, I think. Words and sentence structure were really crafted with a singular goal in mind. One that was accomplished very well. 
And let me tell you about how well characters were made to go along with that. It’s obvious how much care and attention the author paid to them. All of them were integral to the plot and each other. There was so much development to go around, even with the secondary characters. Not one of them finished in the same place they started. They were the kinds of people that readers would easily be able to identify with. In a way, they were all romantic-type characters that fit in well with the floaty narrative. 
No matter how much life got her down, Julia kept trudging along. She suffered so many setbacks, like so many people do, but she never gave up. She turned it into fuel to get her through life. I think that’s a huge, important takeaway for readers. Inspirational, almost, because life sucks and never goes the way we want it to. 
I really liked this narrative. Everything from the plot, to the characters, and the description. The climax and the ending were absolutely perfect, in my opinion. Definitely a must-read for audiences of all ages. Exceptionally well done. 
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Moon River, by Amber Tran

4_24_17 Moon River.jpg



Moon River takes place in Stream Ridge, West Virginia. Everyone knows everyone and it’s thirty miles to the nearest store. About as backwoods and redneck as you can get without embracing the stereotype.
Abigail is our narrator here, a third grader who has a crush on Ryan Mills. And she doesn’t let you forget it. She takes the reader on the journey of her life all the way until high school. Don’t worry, Ryan Mills goes with us.
For millennials, this novel will be nostalgia in your hands. Abigail grows up during that pivotal time where technological advances exploded. We share her first time with MSN messenger. The emo-goth phase with the Tripp pants that Hot Topic sells. The more the story went on, the more I found myself comparing her friends to mine when I was that age.
All the characters are easy to identify with on one level or another. They’re kids, of course, doing the stupid things that kids do. Teasing, backstabbing, tears, and boyfriend stealing everywhere. There’s so much going on in Abigail’s life that it would be easy to get lost. That didn’t happen. Moon River is well-organized and well-paced. Keeping track isn’t an issue.
The author’s writing style is solid. Abigail’s tone in the beginning is simple and childlike. It reflects her personality well. Her use of description helps the reader keep track of everything, not only her. Glimpsing the lives of other characters allows a better understanding of Abigail’s story. This is where a lot of first person novels go wrong—and one that Moon River gets right. As she gets older, there is a subtle, but noticeable shift in her narration.
The lack of overused tropes in Moon River was refreshing. There were one or two, as expected from every novel. What sets Abigail’s story apart is the approach. The story unfolds in a way that doesn’t feel cliché. It also had a rather unpredictable ending. It helped serve as the final note in Abigail’s character development. The moment where the readers realize that she’s no longer a child. The moment Abigail realizes that she’s no longer a child. As the reader, the level of empathy felt along the journey will be strong. Once you get to the end, you’re left with a strong, proud feeling. Determined, even, if there are challenges in your life that need dealing with.
Moon River took me back. The story itself mimicked things that I’ve experienced. That many people have experienced. Definitely worth the read.
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