Felix is a trans gay seventeen-year-old. He lives in New York, attends a special summer art school program, goes back and forth between his dad\’s apartment and his best friend\’s. He really wants to apply for a scholarship but can\’t quite get his portfolio together, and seems to spend a lot more time hanging out with his friends, talking about issues and messaging around on Instagram than actually making any art. But then, art wasn\’t really the focus of the story. It\’s relationships, and finding oneself, and coming to terms with how people do or do not see you, and how you see yourself. It\’s about feeling marginalized- Felix is also black- and honestly I was surprised at how often people within the LGBTQ community portrayed here cut each other down- for not being different enough, or for taking up each other\’s space. Felix is surrounded by friends who are gay or non-binary or otherwise gender non-conforming. He came across as a really emotional person, although we\’re inside his head so maybe it just appeared that way. He\’s upset with his father- who supports him in many ways but often uses the wrong pronouns and can\’t bring himself to say Felix\’s chosen name. He\’s shocked and horrified when someone hacks his online account, prints photos from before he transitioned, and displays them at the school. Felix is determined to find out who did this and get revenge- so he starts catfishing (a new term for me) another student on Instagram, pretty sure this guy is the culprit even though his friends warn him he could be mistaken. Things get awkward when Felix starts to realize he actually likes talking to this guy in his online persona, when in real life they can\’t stand each other. Meanwhile his best friend has started dating someone new, which hurts his feelings although he can\’t figure out why.
I found this book a little hard to get into because well, it\’s not my usual type of read and the tangled mess of friendships, dating, and fake online identities (who knows what about whom?) kinda makes my head swim after a while. I was rather appalled at how quickly Felix jumped into his plan for revenge, but it also gave his character some realistic flaws, I admit. I also didn\’t like how Felix treated his father, or some of his friends later on in the story- but things get better near the end. Felix starts to do more painting, figures out some things about relationships, finds the bravery to speak honestly to his best friend, and bounces around New York attending LGBTQ support groups, going to the gay pride parade (although he hates the crowds and noise of parades- I\’m with him on that one!) and sometimes just loafing around the park with his friends. Some of the conversations in this book felt odd- especially in the support group- and some of the talks Felix had with his dad- I sympathized with the father a lot but on the other hand, found his advice to Felix regarding love rather strange. Because more than anything, Felix wanted to feel loved and have a strong connection with someone- he actually had that all along but didn\’t see it until the end. Well, it\’s a good story and I was eager to see if Felix would find the things he was looking for, but honestly I could have done without all the f-words and the characters were always smoking pot or drinking which also bothered me, but it made me feel so old.
I sincerely thank Jenny for bringing this book to my attention and giving me the opportunity to read it.
Rating: 3/5 354 pages, 2020