Genre: Young Adult Fiction, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance
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.
I’ve seen a lot about Autoboyography everywhere; it’s been mentioned as a favorite on many lists and has received a lot of praise. I’ve loved much of what Christina Lauren has written and this was no exception. Although I have to admit that I didn’t initially love it as much as I thought I would; perhaps because I didn’t connect to the characters as much at the start and I sometimes found their attitudes/actions frustrating (hello, Autumn!). But the more I think about the book now, the more I really appreciate Tanner’s and Sebastian’s story and realize just how much I enjoyed it.
“Oh, man,” Autumn mumbles from beside me. “His smile makes me stupid.” Her words are a dim echo of my own thoughts: His smile ruins me.
This is a coming-of-age love story, but it wasn’t all the butterflies, rainbows and good/easy things that normally feature in CLo’s novels, and that really made it more authentic and believable. Tanner is a bi-sexual high school senior who was out of the closet when his family lived in California, but had to “go back in” when they relocated to heavily Mormon Utah during his sophomore year. No one in town knows he’s queer, not even his best and closest friend Autumn, and it’s been easy to hide until Sebastian walks into his life. Tanner was easily my favorite character. He was immature at times and made some questionable (and typically high school) decisions, but he was also a cinnamon roll who has so much love to give. The support of his parents lent him an air of maturity and he understood consequences. By far my favorite part of the book was his parents and their support for him. Their completely transparent relationship with each other was so enviable and absolute #familygoals. It brought so much comfort and happiness to the story and clearly played a very big role in making Tanner who he is.
“I don’t actually care if you break my heart, Sebastian. I went into this knowing it could happen and I gave it to you anyway. But I don’t want you to break your own. You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?”
On the other hand we have Sebastian, who comes from and was raised in a hardcore LDS home. He struggles with his identity and thinks that by denying who he is, it’ll make him acceptable and different from other queer people. He loves and continues to turn to the faith that he was raised in, but he’s confused with how to reconcile that with what he feels for Tanner; especially when to him it feels completely right, even when everyone and everything he loves and knows tells him otherwise. As I was reading Sebastian’s struggles and vehement denials of being queer, my heart really broke for him. I want to say so much more, but I also don’t want to give any more away. I will say: read it!
I know there are probably many young teenagers/young adults and maybe even adults who struggle with reconciling their faith with how they identify, and it made me sad to think that we still live in a world where you can expect to be ostracized or abandoned if you choose to be yourself, no matter who that is. Although I can’t speak to the experiences in this book, I believe that CLo did a great job in researching and writing about such a sensitive and complex topic. I think a lot of people will really be able to connect with their stories, especially (maybe) Sebastians’ struggles of coming out, and they’ll find comfort in knowing they’re not alone; that others are struggling, scared and don’t know what to do because they don’t want to lose everything and everyone they love just because of who they are.
“But missing him every day for the rest of my life was still easier than the fight Sebastian had: to stuff himself inside a box every morning and tuck that box inside his heart and pray that his heart kept beating around the obstacle. Every day I could go to class as exactly the person I am, and meet new people, and come outside later for some fresh air and Frisbee. Every day I would be grateful that no one who matters to me questions whether I am too masculine, too feminine, too open, too closed. Every day I would be grateful for what I have, and that I can be who I am without judgment. So every day I would fight for Sebastian, and people in the same boat, who don’t have what I do, who struggle to find themselves in a world that tells them white and straight and narrow gets first pick in the schoolyard game of life.”
Christina Lauren does it again! They really know how to write stories that are not only enjoyable, but cover important issues and make you think and feel all the feels. I’m really glad that I finally read this.
Have you read Autoboyography? What did you think about it?
Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat 🙂