Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray. Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options. Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. It sounded like it would be focused around things that are anxieties for me and I didn’t want to read a book about them. But, I heard rave reviews from a lot of people and the queer relationship part really drove it home for me and I decided to give it a shot.
I was right about this book focusing on things that are anxieties for me and I felt nervous and jittery for most of the book. I was completely fine! Don’t get me wrong, it’s just school hardships and fear of failure hit close to home. Despite all this, I’m happy I read the book. I love how it ended and the direction it took, which was completely different from what I thought it would.
The writing was super easy to read and I was able to fly through it. It kept me wanting to come back for more. Ariel’s voice was so distinct and I loved being inside his head. All his decisions made sense, even if they weren’t the right ones. I got where he was coming from and I’m usually the one telling the characters to “make good choices”.
One of my favorite parts was the emotional journey. It played out so differently than what I thought was going to happen. Ah, I can’t say too much without spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that. It was amazing. It touches on anxiety and panic attacks and focuses a lot of putting an overwhelming amount of pressure on yourself.
It was kind of hard to me to remember all the characters sometimes. Somebody would pop up and I wouldn’t remember how they fit into the story. This could just me not paying enough attention, though I would have liked the side characters voices to be a little more distinct and easy to tell apart. Some of them seemed to merge a bit to me. Despite this, I found myself attached to pretty much all of them. I liked hearing little bits of their stories and what they were going though!
Amir and Ariel’s relationship sort of took a back burner approach in the grand scheme of things. It completely makes sense considering everything else that is going on. They were cute and of course I want to see more. Despite their shortage of time together in the story, their relationship still managed to be well developed
This book has a strong sense of family. Ariel truly loves his sister and his parents and I loved that so much. I loved seeing a family who’s so loving and trying to be supportive of each other. Rachel was adorable and I loved her little quirks while playing soccer haha.
The ending left me with a sense of happiness. I’m happy where the characters ended up, even though some things were left open. I would have liked to gotten an answer to some things, but I’m pretty sure the point was to leave those things out. Doesn’t stop me from being curious haha.
While I was hesitant going into this book, I’m so glad I read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would totally be up to reading a sequel or companion novel. Ahhh, there’s so many characters I want to hear from again!
Thank you for reading!