May The Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much to Roaring Brook Press and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

Jeremy Harkiss, cheer captain and student body president, won’t let coming out as a transgender boy ruin his senior year. Instead of bowing to the bigots and outdate school administration, Jeremy decides to make some noise—and how better than by challenging his all-star ex-boyfriend, Lukas for the title of Homecoming King? Lukas Rivers, football star and head of the Homecoming Committee, is just trying to find order in his life after his older brother’s funeral and the loss long-term girlfriend—who turned out to be a boy. But when Jeremy threatens to break his heart and steal his crown, Lukas kick starts a plot to sabotage Jeremy’s campaign. When both boys take their rivalry too far, the dance is on the verge of being canceled. To save Homecoming, they’ll have to face the hurt they’re both hiding—and the lingering butterflies they can’t deny.

I mean, when you find out that a book is about a trans boy competing with his ex-boyfriend for the title of homecoming king, how can you not want to scream? Because that is definitely how I felt when I found out about this book. I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve been excited about this book, but I do know I’ve been excited for as long as I’ve known about! It sounded like it would be absolutely amazing! Trigger warnings: transphobia, grief, homophobia, ableism

Alright, I thought this book was good. I enjoyed reading it. Honestly, I actually ended up loving it. But, I have some qualms, and it’s disappointing, because it’s not even really the book or the author’s fault.

I went into this expecting it was going to be a fluffy and cute romcom. The cover and the marketing all lead me to believe that this would be an adorable contemporary. That is not the case at all. This book is dripping in anger, pain, and angst. And that is completely not a bad thing! I just know it took me by complete surprise. I’m lucky I wasn’t as triggered as I was with Verona Comics (another book I was expecting something different than what I got, but not a bad book at all!), but I don’t want other readers to have a worse reaction to it than I did. I know it’s hard to promote heavy and painful books. And this is not a bad book, I just wish I had more warning and time to prepare before I read it.

If I’m being 100% honest, I wanted it to be a romcom. I wanted a fluffy and cute romcom with a trans MC, pulling shenanigans to win the title of Homecoming King. I will get trans romcoms in the future, I just felt bummed that it wasn’t this one.

ALRIGHT LETS MOVE FORWARD. Once I got acclimated with what this book was going to be, I ended up really enjoying it. It’s impactful, because boy does Ellor know how to write pain. This book is heavy, and my emotions towards this book feel heavy. Really, I think that is testament to just how well it is written. There were times when I was so stressed over what was happening that I had to physically put the book down. This could just be because these kinds of books aren’t quite up my alley, but I do think most of that reaction is due to the author’s talent haha.

I’m always a fan of messy emotions. And dang was this book full of messy emotions. Jeremy has so much to work through. How he sees himself, how he wants the world to see him, how he feels about himself, how he feels about authors, how he wants treat others. He’s so angry, so so angry. He leans into his anger to protect himself from all the other, deep, hard feelings he’s hidden away. He’s messy, but watching his journey was something I’m glad I did.

This book is also dual POV, which I did not expect! Lukas, Jeremy’s ex boyfriend, gets his own POV. Lukas carries so much. He wants to make everybody around him happy and he thinks fixing the world will make people love him. His story was so painful, but again, one that I’m glad I got to watch. I do feel like it could have been fleshed out a bit more at the end, but was still really great overall!

The side characters, the ones who weren’t massive jerks, were another highlight for me! I loved Sol, they were badass, and just awesome all around. Naomi and Ben were also super cool, and great friends.

Overall, while this book wasn’t what I was expecting, I still ended up enjoying it. It was intense, and intense and I don’t always mix together the best. But, in the end, I liked this book a whole lot. It’s not a romcom, but it’s still something amazing.

May The Best Man Win comes out May 18, 2021! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!

2 thoughts on “May The Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor

  1. There are four trans guy-themed YA books coming out I want to read- ‘The Passing Playbook,’ ‘Between Perfect and Real,’ ‘The [Un]Popular Vote,’ and this. I actually like heavier stuff so I’m more excited to read this! (like you, I thought the cover art and description looked light and fluffy.)


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