Carmen's Reviews > Andy Squared

Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie
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Sep 04, 12

bookshelves: netgalley-edelweiss-review-tour
Read from August 24 to 25, 2012

My review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Also posted on my blog here.

Review:
This is a thoroughly enjoyable, cute read about a teenage boy who begins to question his place in the world as well as his sexual identity.

The Morris twins, Andrea and Andrew, share pretty much everything, even down to the nickname Andy (thus the title). They go to the same school in their small town, they both play soccer, they used to do everything together and not keep secrets from one another. If Andrea had her way, they would also go to the same college and continue playing soccer there. For the moment, they even live in the same room because Andrew’s is being remodeled. While their closeness never bothered Andy a lot, he has been growing weary of it as of late. For example, he is no longer sure he wants to continue playing soccer in college or even go to the one Andrea prefers. However, Andrea is deaf when it comes to that topic and blatantly ignores his opinion.

Things change after Andy breaks up with yet another girlfriend and Ryder Coltrane enrolls in the twins’ highschool. Andy does not understand his own reactions to Ryder at first, while Ryder, who has had experience with guys before, appears to catch on quite quickly but doesn’t pressure him and lets him discover the truth on his own. I enjoyed watching their friendship grow as they connected; it made their later relationship so much more real than if they had been instantly deeply in love with one another for no real reason.

Even though the novel is written in the third person, it is mostly focalized through Andy’s point of view and we get insight into his feelings and thoughts. That made it easy for me to empathize with him. I found myself rooting for him and Ryder and was happy to see their relationship develop slowly. The way they handled it was realistic to me. It becomes clear quite early in the novel that their environment isn’t exactly gay-friendly, and I understood that Andy was uncomfortable about coming out to everybody so soon after he realized his own feelings. The situation is slightly easier for Ryder – he is staying with his uncle and aunt because his father, who is in the army, is stationed in Germany at the moment and his mother went with him to live there. So whatever he does here, they are unlikely to hear about it.

The secrecy actually added to their romance for me, but it’s also quite clear to the reader that it cannot last forever. Something’s got to give, and the two of them begin slipping up and cutting it close. Tension mounts as Andrea feels threatened and the twins begin fighting about their college plans more fiercely. When Andrea discovers the leverage she needs, things turn ugly.

Andy and Ryder were well fleshed-out and I found them very likable. Andy’s coming out was realistic to me and I liked how it was woven into his general personal development as he grows more independent and sure of himself and what he wants. I liked that for once, the characters’ families were an active part of the story and their children’s lives. However, I sometimes had trouble understanding Andrea’s motives for her actions. She was extremely controlling and at times I wished Andy would stand up to her more. Nevertheless, the dynamic between the twins was just as interesting as the romantic part of the plot.
Their friends were less fleshed-out than the main characters, but that was okay since most of the story didn’t focus on their interactions that much and it didn’t bother me.

Overall I really enjoyed the story; the writing is fluid and engaging and the characters’ dialogue and actions realistic. One point of critique is that there was not all that much action in the novel. Apart from the blow up near the end, I would have liked it if there had been some more bumps in the road, so to speak. There is growing tension, but hardly any minor eruptions. I only realized that in retrospect though – the focus of the novel is simply more on character development than on plot, which, given the topic, is okay.

Andy Squared is a great story about coming of age and coming out, and I wish there were more LGBT characters in YA literature. The more physical aspect of the story is handled delicately – there are some steamy make-out scenes but nothing graphic. I would thus recommend the story to readers of any age interested in accompanying a gay teen on his journey of self-discovery.
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Reading Progress

08/25/2012
70.0%

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