Buddy Reads Book Review: Autoboyography

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I did this read with my favorite buddy read partner, Leelyn! We listened to the audio version and it went by very quickly. Her full review (minus her intro) is featured below, but you can also view it here, or you can check out her newest post about diversity in books and movies! She’s just recently switched over her blog to WordPress so she’s new to the WP community. I hope you’ll check her out and show her how supportive everyone on this site is.

Copy of Title_ Author_ Page Count_ Publish Date_ Publisher_ (7)Synopsis

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.

Leelynn’s review

Autoboyography

Rating: 4 stars

First, I really did like this book, and one of my favorite parts of this book was how supportive Tanner’s family was on his sexuality. Tanner is bisexual, and while his parents found out through unconventional means, they have done everything to make sure that he knows that they will never be ashamed of him for who he loves, and will never ever make him feel like he needs to hide himself. Of course, that was before they had to make a move to Provo, UT, where it’s pretty much an – in the words of Tanner – “LDS infested town” where he is temporarily back in the closet. For someone that was already out, to have to go back in due to moving just sounds like a terrible thing to go through. Luckily at home, he doesn’t have to hide. Everything around the house basically reinforces what his parents told him when they first found out, so that’s his one safe haven in all of Provo. Even his best friend in Provo doesn’t know about his sexuality, and what may or may not make it worse is that she has revealed that she has feelings for him. Enter Sebastian, who is the Bishop’s son and became an overnight celebrity due to the fantasy book that he wrote in “The Seminar”, a prestigious and intensive writing class in their school where the only assignment is to write a book and turn it in to Mr. Fujita. That was the class that enabled Sebastian to write his book, and he was able to sell it to a publisher that made it gain national notoriety. While Tanner took this class as an almost dare from his best friend Autumn, he was NOT expecting to fall in love with Sebastian Brother, who just so happened to be assisting this year’s class for Mr. Fujita. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I liked learning more about Tanner and seeing him fall in love with someone that he deems unattainable. I liked seeing that Tanner was sure of himself, and knew what he wanted, even though he had some angst about liking the Bishop’s son in an LDS town. I liked the fact that Christina Lauren made sure to not paint the Mormon religion in a completely negative light, while still staying to true to what is known about their religion. I just really liked this book. Of course, that was before they had to make a move to Provo, UT, where it’s pretty much an – in the words of Tanner – “LDS infested town” where he is temporarily back in the closet. For someone that was already out, to have to go back in due to moving just sounds like a terrible thing to go through. Luckily at home, he doesn’t have to hide. Everything around the house basically reinforces what his parents told him when they first found out, so that’s his one safe haven in all of Provo. Even his best friend in Provo doesn’t know about his sexuality, and what may or may not make it worse is that she has revealed that she has feelings for him.Enter Sebastian, who is the Bishop’s son and became an overnight celebrity due to the fantasy book that he wrote in “The Seminar”, a prestigious and intensive writing class in their school where the only assignment is to write a book and turn it in to Mr. Fujita. That was the class that enabled Sebastian to write his book, and he was able to sell it to a publisher that made it gain national notoriety. While Tanner took this class as an almost dare from his best friend Autumn, he was NOT expecting to fall in love with Sebastian Brother, who just so happened to be assisting this year’s class for Mr. Fujita. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I liked learning more about Tanner and seeing him fall in love with someone that he deems unattainable. I liked seeing that Tanner was sure of himself, and knew what he wanted, even though he had some angst about liking the Bishop’s son in an LDS town. I liked the fact that Christina Lauren made sure to not paint the Mormon religion in a completely negative light, while still staying to true to what is known about their religion. I just really liked this book.

My review

Autoboyography

Rating: 3.75 stars

By this point, you’ve already read what the book is about, so I’m going to skip over trying to summarize the plot. On the surface it’s your average “boy meets boy, boy falls for boy, boy struggles to come out” story. But there’s actually more to it, as well.

I have to admit that at first, I wasn’t feeling this very much. I am not a fan of the insta-love and it was really weird to me that both Tanner and Sebastian knew they wanted to be together from their first look at each other the first day in class. Their actual relationship takes a little while to start up, but I still feel like the whole “love at first sight” gets overplayed too often. However, beyond that little annoyance, I really enjoyed their actual relationship. They were a cute, easy couple to root for.

I genuinely enjoyed the characters, though I do think that they all felt a bit two dimensional at times. Many of them often just felt like they were defined by one of two things- Sebastian was a Mormon, Autumn was the love-sick, sassy best friend, Tanner’s mom was the uber-supportive but extremely cautious of the Mormon religion parent… and on and on. Much like Leelynn said in her review, I liked the aspect of Tanner’s confidence in his own sexuality, and it really pained me that he had been forced back into the closet when his family moved from California to Provo, Utah. Even though his parents were extremely supportive and kind, I really hated that he was put in that position in the first place. The relationship between Autumn and Tanner was nice for the most part, but I really didn’t enjoy certain aspects of it, which I won’t mention so I don’t spoil it but… if you know, you know. I felt like it was just entirely unnecessary. Knowing from the very beginning that Autumn had feelings for Tanner did help give readers a good idea of their dynamic, but some things I could’ve gone without. I’m glad that they maintained their friendship though.

My favorite thing about this book was, surprisingly, the relationship between religion and sexuality. I’m an atheist myself, so while I’ve known many people in my life to question how homosexuality plays into their religious beliefs, it’s never been something that I struggled with personally. I had no idea that I’d enjoy the aspect so much in this book, but I think the reason I liked it so much was because of the way that authors handled it. There were times, of course, that Tanner mocked the Mormon religion (also know as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but I think that his jokes tended to be rooted in his misguidance and misunderstanding of some aspects of the church. I had absolutely zero knowledge of LDS values & practices before reading this book, so I didn’t really have any preconceived notions. Tanner, however, has a mother who left the faith after her sister came out as gay when they were younger, and her parents excommunicated her. So, there’s a lot of lost love between Tanner’s mom and the LDS faith.

However, beyond Tanner’s sometimes crude jokes, I felt like the religious aspect of this was handled exceedingly well, and from a unique perspective. Most of story is narrated by Tanner, who isn’t struggling with his faith at all. However, while Sebastian is very confident and happy with his faith and his relationship with his God, he doesn’t really know where his sexuality fits in as far as the church is concerned. I’ve read several books where the main character struggled with this, but never a book from the perspective of the partner during those times. I just found it to be really interesting, and I liked that we were able to see how this effected the relationship from Tanner’s point of view instead of solely Sebastian’s. That being said, I do wish Sebastian would’ve been given more narration time, since we only get to read from his POV much later in the book and for a very short amount of time, but it was still enjoyable.

Overall, this was a nice read. I liked the unique aspects of it- that it is centered around a book that Tanner is writing, that he’s fallen for someone who may never be able to give him all of what he wants, that religion was woven into the story respectfully without being overwhelming to the overall story. This is a perfect read for Pride Month and I’d definitely recommend it to those of you looking for good m/m rep, religious aspects in LGBTQ+ books, or even fans of the meet-cute, insta-love stories.

Side note: Is that cover not so freaking pretty!? I need a copy for my shelves.

13 thoughts on “Buddy Reads Book Review: Autoboyography

  1. Great reviews! I am glad to know I am not the only one bothered by the insta love, it was way too much for me at first. I am glad I stuck with it though, because I ended up enjoying it for the most part. I also wish Sebastian would have had more narration time, I loved his sections!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really agree with your review, especially the aprt about instalove (also… if your book is like at least 80% about the romance, why do you want to rush that part? I don’t get it). But I did enjoy their relationship a lot, and the questions about religion vs sexuality and how both shape your identity. It was more than I was expecting, and it made me wish for a book that really delved into those (it’s been a while, but I think The God Box by Alex Sanchez did a good job too).
    – Reese

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I think that authors are so eager to get into the romance aspect of a story that they skimp a little on building the actual romance. Does that make sense? Instalove just always feels kind of like a cop-out to me. I want to see their feelings towards each other evolve and grow over time.. at least a little of time! I felt like both boys in this one were immediately in to each other. Beyond that, though, I really loved this one! The topics it covered are really important to so many in the LGBTQ+ community and I’m glad that more and more literature is coming out with content about religion & sexuality. I haven’t read The God Box but will definitely look into it!

      Like

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