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One Man Guy #1

One Man Guy

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A heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny story of romance, family, and self-discovery.

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

255 pages, Hardcover

First published May 27, 2014

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About the author

Michael Barakiva

3 books361 followers
Michael Barakiva is an Armenian-Israeli American theater director and writer who lives in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan with his husband, Rafael. He was born in Haifa, Israel and grew up in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, which were much scarier. He attended Vassar College, where he double majored in Drama and English, after which he attended the Juilliard School's Drama Division as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Directing. He has been living in New York City since.

He is the Creative Director and Founder of Novel Readings, a company that uses the performance of literary text to help novelists develop their work and advance social justice. www.novelreadings.com

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,138 reviews
Profile Image for Michael Barakiva.
Author 3 books361 followers
January 14, 2014
As the author of this book, I really had to give it five stars, now didn't I? If you are from the suburbs of New Jersey, or love New York City, the music of Rufus Wainwright, falling in love, summer, tennis, or even a single Armenian, I think you will enjoy my book. If you don't fall into any of those categories, I think you will enjoy it any way because it's my first book and like all first times, it's very special.
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
June 17, 2014
The only thing you need to know about this book is that it is adorbs. Totally, utterly, sweetly adorable. It will give you all the cute feelings and make you want to hug both protagonists. Anyone who doesn’t agree?

You're wrong!

Anybody who doesn’t finish this book wanting to hug everyone involved has no soul. NO SOUL, I SAY!

Do I still have to review the rest of it? I do? Okay. Fine. The writing was fairly good. There were a few times where the characters were stuck having conversations that clearly became lectures from an author mouthpiece. But, you know what? I don’t even care because: adorbs.

The relationship between Aleks and Ethan was intensely sweet and surprisingly physical given the age of our protagonist. And by physical, I mean, I had to stop a couple of times to swoon.

It’s the characters, though, the whole range of them, that’s going to make you love this book. From Aleks himself who is brilliantly written in a teenage voice, to his parents and brother and Ethan himself. I love them all. I just want to HUG them all. Awkwardly. For an indecent amount of time.

Awkward hug

The richest part of the story is Alek’s Armenian heritage and the foods that are richly described in the story. We actually went to an Armenian restaurant that evening to eat the food because it was described so beautifully in the book.

There’s not much more to say. This book is perfect if you’re in the mood for lighthearted fun and a sweet story.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This review and other like it appear on my blog, Cuddlebuggery Book Blog.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews36k followers
August 20, 2018
Library- overdrive Young Adult - Audiobook...narrated by
Michael Chernus ... who is terrific!!!

Light- laugh-out-loud- funny scenes - heartwarming - adorable!

The very beginning of this novel takes place in a restaurant. The scene is hilarious!!!
I was dying laughing. I started to feel a little sorry for the sweet server though.

The Kherderian family are Armenian living in New Jersey. Just about everything is wrong in America from the parents of view. ( all in fun storytelling spirit).
The parents have two sons who have pretty much followed their parents traditional Armenian strict rules.
Things change!! Rules? What rules?

Alek is 14. His parents make him attend summer school.
After another classmate tells Alek that he’s cutting school and taking the train to New York City to watch a Rufus Wainwright concert in Central Park ...Alek listened but had no intention on joining him. Alex was clear he was not the type of kid who would cut school. However - in a split second - Ethan - pulls Alek onto the train with him. He was kidnapped. Things get funnier and funnier- and then just plain sweet and wonderful.

Beware... do not read/listen to this if you are starving. The Armenian dishes might make your mouth water.

Terrific coming of age and coming out - with the joy of the Armenian culture.

319 reviews1,885 followers
May 13, 2014
Actual rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up for the joy this book gave me.

One Man Guy, with an apt acronym of OMG, is amazing; it really, truly is. From the first page to the last, we're thrust into this world of Alek, an LGBT teen finding himself, and it's all just so well written and developed I couldn't help but fall in love. This, my friends, is the LGBT book I've been waiting for but had yet to find.

Of course, in a book like One Man Guy, character and relationship development are key, and here it's damn near perfection. For starters, before the relationship even truly begins, the development of Alek's character as he discovers himself is handled lightly but is believable and strongly written. The same goes for the romance that eventually begins between Alek and "drop out" Ethan, whom Alek has great chemistry with almost immediately. The romance is a slow burn and takes its time to develop, but once it gets going it's cute and swoony, and really all I could ask for in an LGBT romance. Not only that, but the dates in New York City were so much fun to read about, and might have been my favorite part of the novel.

One Man Guy also features interesting and at times heartwarming family and friendship dynamics, and I loved seeing Alek's relationships with the members of his family and his best friend, Becky, evolve into something genuinely great and powerful. Family isn't something I find is usually highlighted in YA, at least with most of what I've read, so it was refreshing to see a novel in which the parents played an important part in the main character's life. All of the relationships, especially the ones between family members, were just so authentic.

My only complaint would be some of the dialogue, largely in regards to Ethan's. The slang used by him is very forced and, in my opinion, unrealistic for teens, and I say this as someone who works with them. This is especially overwhelming in the first half, which is unfortunate because that's when we're first introduced to Ethan, so my first impression of him wasn't as positive as my impression of him by the end of the novel had been. However, as much as the awkward slang took me out of the momentum in the beginning, it was in lesser quantity towards the second half, so I was able to enjoy the rest of the novel entirely and for all its gloriousness

For readers looking for an awesome and fresh LGBT romance, One Man Guy is one of your best bets this spring; it's as cute and fun as the bright yellow cover would imply, but at the same time is not afraid to focus on the more serious and important aspects concerning LGBT life and youth. With fantastic writing, diverse characters, surprisingly funny and also tender moments, One Man Guy is a thoroughly enjoyable read which I could not recommend more.
Profile Image for Carlos De Eguiluz.
226 reviews191 followers
May 10, 2017

¿Poniéndome al corriente con mi literatura LGBT? Yup.

Antes de comenzar a contarles porque este libro es importante, me gustaría comentarles un poco sobre lo que ocurre en esta historia.
Entonces, Aleksander Khederian es armenio, y ser armenio es algo muy importante ¿okay?, no es algo que simplemente decides, como que te levantas una mañana y dices "Hey, quiero ser armenio". No, así no funciona. Tienes que nacer armenio para poder ser armenio.
Tú. Sí, tú. Tú que lees esto, tú no puedes ser armenio.
Okay no... jaja.
El punto es que los poco convencionales padres de Alek revocaron su privilegio a un campamento de tenis al que él estaba ansioso por asistir, dado que no cumplía con las calificaciones que ellos esperaban, o sease que no entraba en el cuadro de honor. Atrapado todo el verano en la escuela suena como el fin del mundo, pero deja de serlo cuando el chico más genial y parte de los famosos "Dropouts" decide que quiere ser su amigo luego de salvarlo de ser golpeado por un enorme muchacho. Conforme avanza la historia vemos a Alek acercarse más y más a este jovencito, Ethan, hasta que, bueno, ya saben, no es un misterio que van a estar juntos ¿verdad?
Ethan y Alek son completamente diferentes. Alek es sumiso en lo que respecta a sus padres y siempre sigue las reglas. Ethan no. Ethan impulsa a Alek ser valiente y tomar sus propias decisiones, y Alek le enseña a Ethan a ser una mejor persona.

En lo personal, pienso que la historia es buena. Tengo que ser honesto. Reí, abracé mi almohada, e incluso tapicé sus paginas con banderitas post-its para recordar las citas. Sin embargo, creo que hubo momentos en que la historia estuvo un poco floja. Pero vamos, así es la vida. Y eso es lo bonito de este libro; que es real, tal y como la vida misma lo es.

Para ser la primera novela de Michael Barkavia, pienso que estuvo bastante bien. Fue tierna, bonita y como dije antes, real. Pero hay un detalle aún más importante y que debo reconocer: Michael no sólo escribió una bonita historia, sino que, con palabras, logró transportarme a lugares a los que siempre he querido ir, me enseño sobre culturas que siempre he querido entender y me mostró como pueden llegar a funcionar las cosas en el mundo. Esto no me pasaba desde hace varios libros, y es reconfortante volverlo a hacer.
Profile Image for Alona.
672 reviews12 followers
July 1, 2014
Absolutely amazing!

This is a beautiful young adult story, and I mean YOUNG adult!
Alek, the MC, is 14! so... if you are not into it, DON'T read it, you will end up not liking it and giving it a few stars less than it deserv, BUT you will also be missing out on an amazing read!
Having said that, Alek is intelligent and very mature for his age that I totally did not feel like I was reading a 14 year old thoughts.

This is Alek's story, and I love the way the author cleverly let us to really know him first, through his family, his day to day life, his belives, his thoughts and his witty conversations with his BFF Becky (I wish all teens had "a Becky" at their side).
Alek is a good student, from a good family, that live by the rules and doing his best to be what his parents expect him to be.


Then, we get to know Ethan, oh Ethan... ahem... where was I?... oh yes, Ethan!
Ethan is the older guy, the cool boy, from "the wrong side". He hangs out with his "dropout" gang, skateboarding and drifting around.


At the end of school year, Alek and Ethan find themselves in summer school together.
Against the odds, they find in each other what they need and form a friendship that quickly transform into a beautiful romance.


Barakiva, the author, doing a great job in introducing us to Alek's (and his own) Armenian heritage with humor and respect. You can truely feel his love to his history.

I will strongly recommend this book for any one who want a beautiful, realistic read.

Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,543 followers
November 10, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

I haven’t been privy to such a horrible bunch of Armenian-Americans since . . .

Commercial Photography

Commercial Photography

Sorry. I can’t. I crack myself up sometimes!


I had super high hopes for One Man Guy. I love that YA books about coming out/being homosexual are becoming more prevalent. These stories and characters are LONG overdue. After reading the synopsis, I thought for sure I would love this little book much like I did with Two Boys Kissing last year. And it started out okay – the pace was quick, the writing was decent and the budding relationship between Alek and Ethan was, for the most part, totes adorbs. (One complaint? Alek is 14, goes from not being sure if he’s gay to 100% full on gay, making out, taking clothes off, etc. with an older/waaaaay more experienced boy. Young people – it is okay to be confused about how you feel about people of the same and/or opposite sex. Just ‘cause someone makes the butterflies flutter in your tummy it does not mean you have to rush into anything before you are comfortable doing so.)

Unfortunately, when it came to my enjoyment of the book as a whole I found I could not get past the scenes with Alek’s parents. The duo (mainly the mother) presented THE WORST stereotype of nationalism I’ve seen in ages. I spent so much time rolling my eyes into the back of my head due to their over-the-top buttholery with regards to their feelings of “these Americans” that it overshadowed what was supposed to be the real plot. Now, I’m 99% sure this was done intentionally in order to point out that being gay isn’t a problem, but having jerks for parents sometimes is - however, after spending so much time showing the reader examples of how the parents are always disappointed in Alek and how they hate nearly everything, when Alek gets caught in a compromising position that forces him out of the closet they’re A-Ok with it all . . . except for his choice of boyfriend. Srsly???? I highly doubt that would have been the case.

Other positives about the story aside from those already mentioned? A most awesome best friend in the form of a rollerblading, Diet Dr. Pepper swilling, gal-pal named Becky and THE. BEST. Soundtrack in the form of Rufus Wainwright . . .

People will know when they see this show
The kind of a guy I am
They'll recognize just what I stand for and what I just can't stand
They'll perceive what I believe in
And what I know is true
And they'll recognize I'm a one man guy
Always was through and through

I REALLY don’t like that I didn’t enjoy this one more : (

Commercial Photography
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,513 followers
October 23, 2014
This was a fast cute YA read. (I imagine that despite not having a name ending in "-ian" the author is Armenian himself - the little digs at Armenian culture sound like inside jokes. The kind of thing that's funny when coming from someone to whom they also apply.)

This book is about Alek, a 14-year-old boy in an Armenian-American family. He's the second generation born in the US, but Armenian culture and history is still very pervasive in his home life. His mother in particular is determined to keep home-cooked food, respect for education, and hatred of all things Turkish (due to the Armenian genocide a hundred years ago), in the forefront of Alek's life.

A few less-than-stellar grades in school have condemned Alek to summer school. His parents are adamant, in hope of his returning to the honors track in the fall. He would much rather be out working at tennis with teammates as he'd planned, but his parents don't give him the choice. On the positive side, one of the other students condemned to summer school misery is Ethan.

Ethan is a little older, cool, confident, and hangs out with a bunch of bad-boy kids called the DOs (for dropouts, their expected fate.) He's also kind and fun, and makes it his mission to rescue Alek from rule-following boredom. As they spend time together, Alek discovers that the DOs are more human than he'd expected, and that his feelings for Ethan are more confusing than he ever could have imagined.

Alek has only dated a couple of girls, and at 14 he hasn't really thought much about exactly why. His best friend Becky is a girl who is more fun than any of the guys he's hung out with. But when it comes to who he wants to kiss, Alek needs some time to figure things out.

This book is sweet, light fun about a boy discovering who he is. There is a refreshing minimum of homophobic bullying, although Alek has to worry about his tradition-oriented and progeny-obsessed family community. The Armenian touches (complete with recipes at the end) are fun and give it a unique flavor. Some elements are a bit overdone (Becky's parents in particular) and the plot conclusion is a little neat. But on the whole I enjoyed this.

There is no on-page sex, but there is plot mention of sex by a 15 year old, and the suggestion of it for Alek at 14. I don't feel it was either over-emphasized or unrealistic, given what the gay guys I know have told me about their varied high school years. I thought the developing relationship between Alek and Ethan was very well done, and I would recommend this book to YA readers.
Profile Image for Tiago | MrsMargotBlog.
154 reviews26 followers
April 8, 2016
Awww... This is so teenager, but so beautiful.
I'll admit I'm a lame person. I love a story that has a happy ending, which makes me smile from ear to ear. I liked this book, the story of Alek and Ethan, reminded me of my teenage years and how we wish to live a beautiful relationship, innocent, pure and passionate inside the school gates, I never had this opportunity, but I loved having a vision of how it would have been through One Man Guy.
Profile Image for Experiment BL626.
209 reviews351 followers
July 29, 2016
I picked this book up because the book description promised humor and romance, and I love humor and romance. Not to mention the book cover was cheery yellow. Sure enough, the book was accurate as advertised.

I had worried how the theme of homophobia would be presented because I didn't want Alek and Ethan to get hurt. I didn't want to read something sad especially when the book promised humor. I still recall the disappointment of How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. Thankfully, the theme of acceptance put my worries to rest.

+ the characters

As I followed Alek's narration, I couldn't help but think about my teenage years. Alek made several bad decisions such as cutting class and lying to his parents. However, I found it pretty hard to condemn him for his decisions because it would be the pot calling the kettle black. As I judged Alek, I also judged myself. I cringed as my memories threw out all the stupid things I did on the front stage of my mind. I know one does not need the moral high ground to point out something that is outright stupid, but I still cringed regardless.

I had little problem judging Ethan, though. Heh. While most of the blame is upon Alek, Ethan was no innocent. Ethan was awesome for saving Alek from a bully, but it didn't change the fact that he was a bad boy cliche. He was part of a clique called D.O., which is short for Drop Outs and self-explanatory. The D.O. were the last classmates Alek should be hanging out with. If Alek wasn't easily influenced I wouldn't have cared, but he was. Ethan led Alek on the same prospectless path. I liked that Ethan was broadening Alek's world horizon, but they could have done it without delinquency.

Finally, Ethan wasn't sensitive to Alek's needs, which I found highly ironic. Ethan was making the same mistake with Alek as his selfish ex-boyfriend made with him. I didn't care for Ethan for most of the book, but in the end he won my heart as he won Alek's.

Alek and Ethan were flawed enough to be believable, but smart enough to realize their mistakes so the story was not frustrating to read. I liked that they were portrayed as teenagers who made stupid mistakes and not stupid teenagers being stupid.

Honorable mention is Becky, Alek's best friend. I saw the misunderstanding with her a mile away. I'm glad it was quickly fixed. I was relieved she stayed a true friend and supported Alek throughout the book. I loved how bluntly she pointed out that Alek had a crush on Ethan immediately after Alek told her about his new friendship with Ethan. It was funny how Alek could be so oblivious about himself and other people.

+ the plot

In the beginning, Alek's Armenian heritage was the source of his teenage drama. Alek's family was high-maintenance, and they had high expectations for their children, Alek and his big brother Nik. But later Alek came to realize that as much as the heritage was a pain in the neck for him, it was an important part of his identity and pride. Because of Alek, I learned a bunch about the Armenian history, culture, and food — especially the food. Warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach.

The romance was slow and nice for one that had several red flags because Alek made bad decisions. The ending was a HEA, which pleasantly surprised me. The most I expected was an Okay For Now ending, not even a Happy For Now ending, because it is a Young Adult contemporary. It was a little unbelievable how quickly some of the characters reconciled, but I confess I didn't care.

The one thing that book dropped the ball on was the bullying. It was unbelievable that Alek and the bully were on good term after the incident. But based on the many things the book could have dropped the ball on and the overwhelming theme of reconciliation, I let it slide.


I rate One Man Guy 4-stars for I really liked it. I bumped the book up a star because it left a big grin on my face at the end, unlike How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.

For a book that simply promised humor and romance, it delivered a lot more than humor and romance. There were themes of family, friendship, acceptance, and reconciliation to list a few. And then there was the HEA, which was icing on the cake. I can totally imagine the book as a romantic comedy movie.
Profile Image for prag ♻.
588 reviews587 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 11, 2017
DNF @ 4%

the cover is beautiful but i kinda hate everybody so bye bye book (don't get discouraged by this, y'all it's probably a very good book I'm just not in the mood for it)
Profile Image for Michael Araujo.
64 reviews44 followers
October 12, 2017
Here’s the deal with this book. I wanted to love it, I really did! But I just couldn’t. And if you don’t want to be spoiled, turn around for I shall spoil, but if you don’t care then do continue on.

The story follows this freshman, going into sophmore year, by the name of Alek and Alek has never really thought about his sexuality until he meets skater boy Ethan. Alek also comes from a very traditional Armenian family who think that Americans are messy and if it's not Armenian then it isn't the right way. With a little bit of curiosity and a whole lot of messiness, Alek and Ethan become this thing and that's where this book hits the fan.

I didn't have a problem with the whole "Armenian's are superior" ordeal the family was doing because trust me, I have traditional Portuguese parents who think that Portuguese food is the only way to go. I actually liked reading about the Armenian lifestyle, even if the parents did piss me off at times. The Armenian characters themselves seemed a bit one dimensional in the beginning until the end when things starting "picking up." It was almost as if their only purpose in the book was to show how much they think Americans basically suck.

Aside from that, the book spoke a lot about the rivalry between the Armenian people and the Turkish and referenced a war between the two that happened many years ago. I thought it was an amazing thing to add, if it hadn't felt childish. The way it was handled and the way the characters were acting towards each other, it was almost done in a kiddish way instead of having them being serious which ruined the experience for me. I felt like it could have been better handled and even done a bit more serious to show the complications and the hatred between the two.

But the one thing that bothered me the most, had to be the "love" story between Ethan and Alek. Ethan could not be any worse of a boyfriend to this poor kid who's discovering himself. This is where my little rant starts. The first sign I saw was Ethan using the f word. By f word, I mean the derogatory word used against gay men. I was never bothered by the word but recently it's really started getting to me hearing it from people. And I know a lot of people have a "gay people can use it" mentality but I just think it's a disgusting word.

So when Ethan uses it I'm like here we go. "Rufus is a homo, so his music is really popular with f****ts" Upon hearing this Alek is quickly uncomfortable, as am I, and his mood goes down as they're on this date. Alek brings this up, and this stupid ass Ethan, AGAIN has the balls to say, "When you're, like, a member of a certain..." "That's why it's okay for me to use the word..." Let me put it this way. Take the N-word. It's a word filled with hatred towards a race. People use it all the time to tear others down. While there are some people who use it between each other who are black, it's not a word everyone likes and doesn't change the fact that it has horrible power. Regardless what race or sexuality or gender, certain words have a power that can tear others down. And regardless who is using them, it's still hurtful.

If Ethan were in front of me I would've beat him with my book. The reason he uses it, and the mentality he has about using a derogatory word was so stupid and just UGH! Right there I didn't like this guy and was all like Alek baby, run. Save yourself. But it just got worse. Ethan started saying how in the gay community, it's normal to be in an open relationship or cheat. And it was like every word and sentence he said made me face palm myself until it burned.

But what pissed me off the most, was how he treated Alek. Now Ethan had this guy who he loved and who just left so he's very emotional and I know how that is. I've been there myself. I don't blame him for that. But he treated Alek like shit. In one scene they go thrift shopping to change the way Alek dresses and they see this Green Lantern shirt which Alek starts geeking over. And I thought it was adorable his inner geek was coming out, and Ethan responds with, "Whatever." And then proceeds to do this several times through out the scene, just shutting down Alek and everything he likes.

Now you might be wondering, what if the way Ethan is was on purpose and the book is about a bad relationship. I've thought about that but it honestly didn't feel like that at all. I very much would love for it to be that but it just doesn't feel that way. I feel like Ethan is this jackass who Alek and the readers are made to love. He gets Alek to cut from school, gets him to change himself, and gets him to go against his parents.

But what gets to me the most is that I don't even think they end up together at the end! As Alek leans to kiss Ethan, it mentions two trains moving in opposite directions and it ends right there. If that's not symbolism for Alek learned his shit and left this dude, then I don't know what is.

Like I said, I really wanted to love this book, and I kind of enjoyed it, but Ethan just bothered me so much and is the sole reason for this review. I could've gone into more things but I really just wanted to get my hate for him off my chest!
Profile Image for ☆ Todd.
1,349 reviews1,484 followers
February 10, 2017

Ehhh. I've read tons and tons of YA and, while this story did hold my interest, for the most part, it only ended up being about a 3-star read for me.

There was just so much 'Armenian this' and 'Armenian that' going on in the book that it came across, to me, as pretty heavy handed, becoming more of a focus to the story than the actual relation and feelings between Alek and Ethan, who I actually did like a lot.

The opening restaurant scene for the story, with Alek's family tormenting that poor waitress, was flat out hilarious, but after that the humorous parts sort of petered out.

Also, the ending, where Alek's uber-traditional parents finally grow a brain, seemed a bit too easy and unrealistic, after seeing their previous, stringent behavior regarding pretty much *everything* in their sons' lives.

So a good story, but not great, in my opinion. I definitely wanted more genuine romance between Alek and Ethan, leaving me with at least a bit stronger HFN than what I got.
Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 58 books14.9k followers
December 29, 2014
A sweet coming of age story about a young man from an Armenian family. This book is full of contracts between our hero and his friends and his overly strict family. However, there is clearly lots of love. One of my favorite things is how much of the story revolves around food. Also, it is a love ode to New York City (which as a Left Coaster I'm kinda, well, over). At times the story did feel a little twee or pat. Some books are like five point essays, too perfect in form to feel inspirational. I was left feeling I had an informative read, and I genuinely liked the book, but I wasn't transformed.
Profile Image for KatieMc.
818 reviews87 followers
January 7, 2015
This was a perfectly pleasant 3-star YA mm story that pairs a teen from a culturally immersed Armenian family with a slightly older teen who seems to have minimal parental presence. There were messages about love and acceptance and doing the right thing. There were misunderstandings and conflicted loyalties. For the story backdrop, the angst level was relatively low. The Armenian food described sounded delicious.

I had one small fit of rage when reading caused by something that Ethan did and the non-existent reaction of Alek. This plot point is not significant to the story in any way, but it really chapped me since there was Alek as all about doing the RIGHT thing. ½ star deducted!

No story spoilers, but if you want to know what happened that torqued me
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books105 followers
November 13, 2015
Some spoilers in this review, so if you haven't read the book you may not want to read it. :)

A mostly sweet suburban coming of age and love story with great cooking and several visits to Manhattan, including a free weekday morning Rufus Wainwright concert in Central Park.

Alek and Ethan, who wind up in summer school together, find that despite their many differences, they have a lot in common (as long as Alek has a total urban makeover.)

Ethan is a short-boarder who hangs out with other skaters, scrappy, nervy, apparently very out as gay in his school, which seems to be a big deal, though at the same time no one seems to care at all and Alek has no idea Ethan dates guys until Ethan tells him.

Alek is a frustrated youngest son in a strict, traditional (and yet not homophobic at all? and okay with Alek dating a non-Armenian person?) Armenian family, whose older brother is by-the-book-perfect, though also a fawning (toward his parents) arrogant jerk. Alek feels that no one in his family gets him and there is nothing he can do to live up to his brother's reputation. He is doomed to a kind of frustrated silence speckled with ongoing sarcastic commentary (which gets old after a while).

It wasn't clear to me what drew Ethan and Alek together. And everything fell apart and then resolved with a little too much simplicity. That said, I was happy to be reading a cute queer YA love story so I just did my best to enjoy.

This isn't a terribly unique or realistic story. You have the gay protagonist, his feisty best girl friend with whom he watches a lot of movies and has a failed moment of romance. And who knows he's gay before he does. Trips to New York during which openly affectionate queer people are seen for the first time and extreme fashion changes happen...Not super deep or well-written, but refreshingly light-hearted and enjoyable.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,890 followers
August 12, 2016
3.5 stars
Try as I might, I can only think of several YA books with LGBTQ main characters that really took my breath away. In fact, I can probably count them on my fingers. (Not that I need my fingers to count, people! I suck at math, but not that much!) While this saddens me for so many reasons, it’s comforting to see more and more being written every day. And besides, the novels we do have are all pretty spectacular. Just think: Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz; Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff, the spectacular Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford; the Printz medalist Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz; and, (this I’m assuming because I haven’t read it yet) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth.*

Naturally, when I discovered One Man Guy, I hoped with all my heart that it would find its place among these brilliant novels. Unfortunately, it fell just a little bit short. It was lighthearted, funny, but not memorable enough, and certainly not set to become a classic. A worthy attempt with something missing. In that, it reminded me of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.

The plot is actually pretty straightforward: young Alek meets Ethan, a boy from school and his complete opposite, and starts having feelings towards him. These feelings lead him to conclude that he is not, in fact, straight. Alek doesn’t spend too much time struggling with this fact. He is open-minded by nature and once he connects the dots, he just accepts things for what they are. That fact alone made me like him very much. Overall, Alek is a fascinatingly realistic character – a bit younger than I’m used to, but honest, with typical teen anger issues and insecurities.

However, while I liked Alek very much, I found his relationship with Ethan just a bit too disappointing. Ethan influenced Alek in ways I didn’t particularly like and their dynamic, colored by Ethan’s previous relationship with an older boyfriend, wasn’t something my heart could get behind.

Actually, the LGBTQ theme wasn’t what I appreciated most about this novel. Instead, I was thrilled by the intercultural undertones and the lightly satirical portrayal of Armenian culture. System of a Down has been my favorite band for over 15 year so I’ve made it a point to learn as much as I could about the Armenian genocide, but their culture, things like Armenian cuisine and mentality, remain a mystery to me. It was interesting to see it through Alek’s eyes, colored by his mixed feelings of pride and teen rebellion.

Overall, One Man Guy is a noteworthy debut that left me determined to read whatever else Michael Barakiva writes. There’s room for improvement, sure, but his writing is filled with honesty and warmth one can’t help but appreciate.

*There are, of course, others likeBoy Meets Boy or Pink - great books, but not personal favorites. Feel free to mention more in the comments.

Profile Image for Ksenia.
788 reviews192 followers
October 12, 2015
Oh how I enjoyed this book. And so swoonworthy! Loved the fact that Alek was Armenian because I could totally relate (in a Polish way), in regards to having parents and family that rely on upholding traditions from the Old World.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews907 followers
April 7, 2016
An Electronic Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. Quotes have been pulled from an ARC and may be subject to change.

The first scene is something memorable. I have never met anyone so specific to order things off the menu like this and I was appalled that some people would order like this. That’s crazy! But judging from the familial relationships, I knew it was setting up for something in the end.

I was completely invested in the story between the two boys. Here’s a boy who didn’t know what he liked during his teen years, confused and disheartened he goes through his days in the best way possible. I really love seeing them hang out and be together and see how he dealt with society who judges people based on how they look instead of who they are. I loved Ethan’s free spirit and he was a perfect guy who showed Alex the ropes. He was proud to be himself and didn’t care what anyone thought. His friends were also too funny and so nice. Alex’s family was even more interesting after the fact that he didn’t know how they would react to his “coming-out.” And I really commend them and it showed how remarkable we can take family for granted.

I also have to mention how much the Armenian food was sprinkled throughout the pages. It made me hungry and now I want to try some of these wonderful dishes that were talked about it in the book. Cultural diversity and a boy-boy romance in one? Grab this one and feel the cute little feels that I felt while reading it.

This ended up expiring on me and I was so close to the end, so even though I didn’t read the rest of the e-ARC, I found the book at the store and read the end there lol
Profile Image for Amy.
1,030 reviews102 followers
May 16, 2016
***Audiobook*** A cute YA story. I learned a lot about the Armenian culture. Very good narration, enjoyed this audiobook!
Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,468 reviews291 followers
May 12, 2014
“Because anyone who thinks there is something wrong with being gay is like those people you read about in History who believed in segregation. But I bet you Ethan cares, because it sounds to me like he has a crush on you, too.” – Chapter 9, page 107

Imagine for a moment that you’re a fourteen-year-old boy. Your parents just told you that you will be doing summer school, not because you failed, but because your grades could be better. Your parents, who has the combined obsessive tenacity of Rain Man if Rain Man has a twin brother, insist on keeping the tradition, the culture, the civility of a good Armenian family. You have very little choice but to go.

You then find out that the school’s infamous D.O. [drop out] would also be taking the summer classes with you along with his company of rejects. But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. After all, he did save you from a beat-down. In fact, he looked a little worst-for-wear on the first day of summer school. Clearly, Ethan at least, is chivalrous and kind to defend you. Then you started hanging out with him; started cutting class, even. You discovered a world outside the rigorous, traditions instilled at your home.

It wasn’t smooth-sailing at first; for a moment, you thought he was embarrassed to be your friend. But he surprises you again! He is a full, out of the closet gay boy who hangs out with a crowd that you’ve apparently misjudged. Ethan is the coolest boy you know; he dresses nicely; he is funny. He knows the best way to enjoy New York City in under $10. He likes Rufus Wainright, and art museums. Why would he possibly want to hang out with you?

Soon, your friendly feelings toward Ethan becomes an inexplicable, complicated thing. Is this a crush? But you’re not gay! How could you possibly have a crush on a boy when you’re a straight boy yourself? And you’re only fourteen! And you’ve had crushes on girls; you’ve even kissed a girl before. Shouldn’t you know right away if you were gay?

Thus is the story of these two boys; one lived in a carefully protected world, ensconced by his family’s constant need to conform in the small community of Armenians in New Jersey. And the other, a free spirited boy, who’d learned the pain of a broken heart at such a young age. Their story is one of the sweetest, awkwardly romantic LGBT book I’ve read so far. Funny as it is heartfelt, and inspirational in its honesty.
Profile Image for Ashley Williams.
Author 1 book281 followers
February 16, 2014
I absolutely loved One Man Guy! It was swoony and sweet, but there was an underlying complexity of family issues and culture bias that just moves you.

The Author Writes:
If you are from the suburbs of New Jersey, or love New York City, the music of Rufus Wainwright, falling in love, summer, tennis, or even a single Armenian, I think you will enjoy my book.

I find that I don't fall into most of that category, I have never met an Armenian (but now I want to), don't really like tennis (unless swooning over someone), I don't know who Rufus Wainwright is, and I am a mom from Indiana, and know nothing of NY or NJ. Simply put, I loved the love story! It was so sweet, while having a bit of an angsty side. It was also a simple love, two boys meet and they fall in love. I also loved the way the author handled the LGBT aspect of the book, and I think that it could encourage anyone struggling with the issue, that it'll be okay. If you family loves you, then your sexuality won't be a problem. I like how this book sparked interest for me. I now want to find a way to try Armenian food, and learn a bit more about their culture. I may even make the recipe in the back of the book!

One minor issue I had with this book, is I wish the MC were a bit older than 14. It seems in some parts that the situation gets a little heated, if the scene would have gone much further, I would've felt slimy. Also, it seemed that Alek just decided one day to be gay, there was not a lot of thought behind it, no inner turmoil. Of course, he was scared to come out to his parents and kids at school, but it really didn't seem to give him issues, though, it may have taken away from the lightness of the book.

Overall, I totally enjoyed this read! It was light, fun, and romantic, but it also dealt with some tough decisions.
Profile Image for Ulysses Dietz.
Author 15 books623 followers
November 11, 2015
So, the last two YA/LGBT books I’ve read have been wonderful. Michael Barakiva is not, apparently, Armenian, but he seems to be able to channel not only Armenian-American culture, but suburban New Jersey culture like a pro.

Aleksander Khederian is fourteen. He is a good boy, but beginning to rebel against the strict upbringing imposed upon him by his American-born Armenian parents. And I can see why, because they seem like really hard-ass parents. Although great cooks.

Then, one day, Alek lets his curiosity draw him through the tunnel beneath the railroad tracks at his local suburban station (trains matter a lot in this book). He symbolically and literally crosses to the other side of the track, where he encounters Ethan Novick, a “bad boy” from his school. When Ethan rescues him from the bullying of one the other skaters in his posse, a little spark is struck, and that spark will ignite a new view of the world for Alek.

Michael Barakiva is a lovely writer. Smart and gentle, he is slyly humorous, but never dodges the pain that is at the core of adolescence or the mixed blessing of a devoted, protective family. Alek’s relationship with his family is fraught with love and frustration, and it only gets more complicated as the fairly simple narrative unreels. Once Ethan is in the mix, the reader can see the inevitable explosion coming, and yet nothing happens in quite the way we expect it to.

The YA convention of the female best friend is both honored and transcended in the person of Becky. She is as wise as she is sassy, and in a way that feels entirely plausible for a fourteen year old girl. Her role in the story is not really a catalyst, but more of a solo-Greek-chorus, with a little bit of the sibyl thrown in. The book’s fantastically deft treatment of teenage sexuality clearly demonstrates how much things have changed since I was in high school.
2 reviews
June 28, 2014
I came for the gay relationship, but stayed for the Armenian culture.

I can tell that the subject matter is very personal to the author, but I'm disappointed. I'm always hesitant to read YA and this really reinforced my misgivings.

•awesome Armenian culture and food talk, the real meat of the story in my opinion

•best friend is a cool girl

•most exciting part is when the family comes home early and walks in on them

•while the main character had a problem w/ the slur faggot he had no problem using slut and bitch. major turn off.

•the relationship between Alek and Ethan felt easy and sort of hollow? it felt see through to me. i expected so much more idk romance? there was no fumbling oh i like you more than a friend it was just: hey youre cool. oh youre gay? kiss kiss fall in love. sort of boring tbh.

•the dialogue for Ethan felt so out of touch, like some stuff would be current other obscure like when he walks in calling the teacher "Teach". who does that? and also "ya hear?"

•the attack scene was SO bizarre to me like never in my life have i seen or experienced the physical bullying that so often appears in YA fiction

•Ethan seems dull to me, a personal opinion though really

So i guess all in all great to read for Armenian info, but for the relationship not so much.
Profile Image for Ryan.
527 reviews
January 5, 2015
I got this book from Russell for Christmas.

This is a story of a 14 year old Armenian American boy who comes out (as you can probably tell from the title.) The book is really sweet and handles coming out deftly. In a post-coming out world, where it's not the big deal it used to be, I thought the author handled this very well. It felt natural and honest.

Armenian heritage, prejudice and culture play a strong role. I feel some of the information about Armenia and Armenian culture was a little forced and didn't feel as natural. But I didn't know a lot about Armenia so it was interesting to read about. It just felt a tad explain-y. Contrasting homosexuality, coming out and gay culture with Armenian culture in America was a really smart move and was done really well.

This is a great YA book. It's sweet and sincere without being too sappy. There are some surprises and it avoids being cliche. This doesn't have the emotional impact of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" or "The Fault in Our Stars" but I don't think that was the goal. It was just a good story that was well written and you feel good at the end. I wish there were more books like this out there. I hope the author writes more.
186 reviews51 followers
June 27, 2016
Alek's parents were so over the top that I couldn't help but laugh. I think they were my favorite part. I really enjoyed reading about their family dynamic, and learning more about what made them act the way they do. I'm glad we got to see more from Nik, Alek's older brother, because I was intrigued by him at the beginning and didn't know much about him for awhile. This was definitely a character driven book, which I really liked.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,722 reviews464 followers
October 5, 2014
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

3 Stars

This was an OK book. When I saw this book on Net Galley, I checked the reviews on Goodreads and saw that everyone seemed to LOVE this book. I was so excited to get the chance to sit down with it myself because I wanted to love it too. I love a good coming of age story as much as anyone else. I did not love it. To be perfectly honest, this is probably going to be one of those books that I have read that I will not even be able to remember much of in a few months.

Alek is a 14 year old Armenian boy. I loved the fact that Alek's Armenian culture played a huge role in this book. I would actually say that this aspect is the strongest point of the book. Alek's parents decide that he will have to attend summer school because they want him to be on the honor track in high school. During summer school, Alek crosses paths with Ethan.

Alek is best friends with Becky, whose character I found to be the most interesting in this book. Becky is a free spirit who is not afraid to go for what she wants, and she thinks she might want Alek. During an awkward encounter, Becky learns that those feelings are not mutual.

It turns out that Alek has never thought about whether he might be gay but he is attracted to Ethan after spending some time with him. The pair spend a lot of time together over the course of the summer and become a couple.

Alek's very traditional parents are very supportive of the fact that their son is gay. While I think that this is wonderful, I do not feel that it fits in with their personality as written. These are parents who have not allowed their son to pick out his own clothes in the past. I just do not see this type of parent being as supportive as they were in this story.

This was a book that left me wanting a bit more. Alek was able to come to terms with his sexuality with no issues. I think that in most cases, there would have been a lot more difficulty in coming out. Everything in the book wrapped up quite easily in the end. In my opinion, it was a little too easy and not authentic.

This book had some strong points and some not so strong points. I ended up finding it a somewhat enjoyable quick read.
Profile Image for Roo James.
118 reviews4 followers
June 3, 2014
One Man Guy had been on my radar for a few months now and finally being released, I went to pick it up and got the 1 copy my local bookstore was carrying (why would they only have 1 copy though?)

Moving on... One Man Guy had a lot of pros but also a few cons, in my opinion.
The pros are definitely in the form of Ethan and Becky. Ethan is a total babe which is weird to say because he's like 15 or something, but whatever, I could totally see why Alek was falling for him. Becky is often hilarious, supportive, quick witted, and generally everything a best friend should be. I feel that these two characters were definitely the best written, even more so than Alek, the main protagonist. I loved the New York scenes, and wish we got to spend more time in this setting. It was great to read from Alek's perspective discovering all these things in the big city through Ethan's guidance. It's easy in these scenes to see why Alek was falling for Ethan - he was opening a new world to Alek in just about every sense. The blossoming romance and tension between the boys was cute to read about and I only wish we got to see more of this.

As far as the cons... Primarily Alek's family. They are wholly unlikeable. Pretentious, strict, and unabashedly racist. The worst part is it didn't come across to me that they were intended to come off as horrible. Rather, the impression given is that they were representing the typical Armenian family. I certainly hope that this isn't the case!
I wasn't a fan of Becky's parents either. They do absolutely everything in tandem, including only saying one half of a sentence while the other says the rest. I would have been a happier reader if they didn't appear at all truth be told.
Lastly, there were several pages that were absolute info dumps. Scads of pages about onions sizzling and rinsing lentils and pouring tomato paste. Even if I was a fan of the kitchen I think this would have bored me, but as someone who prides himself in not knowing how to cook I was mildly offended by this scene :P

All in all, One Man Guy was an enjoyable read and a great debut from the author. I'll definitely look forward to reading more from him in the future.

3 stars!
Profile Image for Shelby P.
1,320 reviews33 followers
July 4, 2014
What an excellent YA novel!! I now feel like an honorary Armenian! I loved this story. The Khederian family felt very real to me. So many good things here. First was Ethan. He's so young but so wise. I had to nominate him as a Book Boyfriend for 2014 (although my friend called me a perv since he's what? 15/16?) But he's the perfect boyfriend for Alek. I'm happy that the most action we got in this book was kissing because I thought Alek was too young at 14 for anything more. Becky was a great best friend.

I can tell when a book is excellent when I want to experience the things the characters experience. I will definitely have to watch "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" again and that Jennifer Aniston/Paul Rudd movie. I Googled Armenia to find out exactly where on the map it was located. Had no clue about the Armenian Genocide. And I'm definitely going to make Stuffed Grape Leaves. Thanks for the recipe!

While reading this book I couldn't help but think of the most famous Armenians, The Kardashians. That was a funny line about them later in the book. I loved Ethan's hip way of speaking, just loved it. This book was so good that I want to re-read immediately. Highly recommend!
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