Monday, 17 February 2020

Book Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

(Thanks Hachette for NetGalley approval for this one! Only Mostly Devastated is published in the UK on 5th March.) 

Only Mostly Devastated is about Ollie, who has a short holiday romance with a guy called Will who seems perfect - until he ghosts him. When Ollie finds out they're staying in North Carolina to be near his dying aunt, and he's transferring schools, it's a shock - but an even bigger one comes when he finds that Will is a classmate of his. Who's very much not out to his friends. With help from his new friends, can Ollie rekindle the spark they had? And with Will acting like something of an asshole, should he even want to? 

I've been desperate to read this one ever since I initially saw descriptions along the lines of "Grease, but with two guys in love" and WOW, it didn't disappoint! Ollie is a lovely main character, sweet and kind and generally - if not always - thoughtful and I loved the trio of girls he becomes friendly with, particularly Lara, who starts off antagonistic towards him but eventually becomes a trusted friend. I also really enjoyed the portrayal of the family relationships; Ollie spends a lot of time looking after his two little cousins when his aunt is especially ill and they're wonderful characters, as are his parents and aunt and uncle. Sophia Gonzales pulls off an impressive feat here by weaving a really emotional storyline of Ollie's aunt's declining health, and the issues Will has with hiding his sexuality in a school where even generally kind-hearted teens are apt to make thoughtless comments about gay people, in with a delightful romance to make a funny and heart-warming book with real depth. I thought Will was a great love interest, by the way. He's a kind and sympathetic person but he's so worried about having his sexuality exposed that he can act in an obnoxious way; seeing the way he tries to deal with this fear really made me warm to him. 

I love Sophie Gonzales's writing style - it's fresh, really readable, and she makes all of her characters, and their hopes and fears, feel brilliantly alive. She also builds to a truly gorgeous climax which felt incredibly satisfying. Massively recommended as one of the strongest YA debuts I've read for ages, and one that I can definitely see myself rereading several times. (Also I have to give a shout-out to Jim Tierney's cover which is BEAUTIFUL.)

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