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This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story

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A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.

Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

304 pages, ebook

First published October 30, 2018

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About the author

Kacen Callender

12 books2,133 followers
Kacen Callender is a Saint Thomian author of children's fiction and fantasy, best known for their Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning middle grade debut Hurricane Child. Their fantasy novel, Queen of the Conquered, is the 2020 winner of the World Fantasy Award and King and the Dragonflies won the 2020 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Callender is Black, queer, trans, and uses they/them and he/him pronouns. Callender debuted their new name when announcing their next young adult novel Felix Ever After in May 2019.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,370 reviews
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 25, 2021
I so badly wanted to enjoy this one but unfortunately I really didn't. I loved Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, their writing completely captivated me and the characters were so loveable and amazing. So I was expecting much the same here, or at least something similar, but that isn't what I got at all. This was a really frustrating reading experience. Personally as a reader I tend to prefer likeable characters, but in this book I didn't find any of the characters to be enjoyable. There were some sweet moments of romance and friendship, but for the most part I found everyone to be insufferably annoying. The cast of characters is extremely diverse which is awesome, it was lovely to see a M/M romance blossom between two queer POC characters, but I just wanted more for them. They just could be really assholes at times to be entirely honest and it was infuriating. There was a lot of cheating going around to the point where I flipped back to make sure I had read something right. I found it unnecessary and just made me more annoyed with characters I already was struggling with. There was representation for the deaf and HoH community which I loved, the incorporation of ASL was very seamless and really well done in my opinion. I just wish that the redeeming qualities hadn't been completely outweighed by all the things I didn't like. The story itself was messy, which did make sense since the characters were as well. I don't think this is a bad book, it just wasn't something I enjoyed. I was hoping for a sweet and cute second chance romance but I was just left so frustrated in the end.
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
596 reviews1,839 followers
December 14, 2018
gay childhood best friends to lovers is literally the only reason i am still alive

3.5 ☆

things i loved:
- diversity! both main characters r poc and lgbt (i'm assuming bi and gay based on what we know, but no one rly uses labels), as is mc's best friend and ex-gf
- ollie is hoh and it's never forgotten in the story. the part i liked most is how nate learned asl for him as a kid & all the signs would get described every time they talk but the author would give meaning to them only once. after that, it was up to the reader to rmbr
- the idea that an epic love story doesn't have to be Epic™, u just have to be happy & in love & keep trying
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,304 followers
February 13, 2019
I really tried to find the redeeming qualities of this book, but as someone with personal experience in cheating, the amount of it this book had was badly handled and unforgivable. I’ll talk more in my wrap up but ugh this was emotionally draining and frustrating to read.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,471 reviews1,889 followers
October 16, 2018
Sadly, the only thing epic about this is how epically it did not live up to its title.

There is plenty of diversity to be found in this novel but the awesome of that is totally negated by the frustrating af characters that were totally flat and/or annoying. Additionally there were endlessly repetitive emotional agonies that failed to inspire any kind of sympathy or feeling from this reader and just added to my overall frustration.

Would not recommend.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for Libra.
344 reviews9 followers
November 4, 2018
I'm sad. I'm really sad that I hated this book as much as I did. Maybe hate is a strong word, but while I was reading I felt sad, frustrated, annoyed and all kinds of other negative emotions.

To start of, I was really excited about this book. I thought this was going to be a cute love story with some drama elements. A “rom-com” like some critics had called it. But can someone tell me, in what world would you call this a rom-com? In my eyes this is just a frustrating drama with an asshole MC. I actually think the description of this book is horribly misleading? I was expecting a book with a main character who just refused to get together with his love interest, because he doesn't believe in happy endings, but as it turned out, that plotpoint turns up WAY later in the book. I maybe would have pushed in the foreground that his love interest/childhood friend is in a committed relationship when he gets back, how about that?

When I started reading this, I was really hooked, actually! Sure, I didn't like the whole clichee of “I dated my best friend and still have feelings for her” plotline, but I could get over that. I actually liked that the book started on such a somber note, with Nate just being through a breakup and Oliver coming back just to state that he has a boyfriend. I was excited to see that this wasn't a story full of sunshine and happiness. But then things started to turn. Even though Flo had broken up with Nate and had a girlfriend now, Nate kept wondering and asking her “Why not me? Why did we have to break up?”, clearly still hung up on her, which okay, fair, I'll give him that. It's a bad situation to be in and he has a right be angry. But then his childhood friend moves back and Nate discovers he still has feeling for him, but o no, he has a boyfriend now. Which also, fair, situations like that can happen and they SUCK, I understand.

But then this book was starting to piss me off. You know, because you're supposedly reading a gay romance, that Nate and Ollie are probably going to get together, so it becomes this tale of “When is Ollie gonna break up with his boyfriend?” Flo even tells Nate that he should go for it, tell Ollie how he's feeling, which in my opinion is a shitty thing to do if you know someone has a boyfriend? And aside from mentioning that he has some problems with the long-distance thing, Ollie hasn't mentioned at that point that he wanted to break up with Aiden in any way. And Nate even SAW how much these two love each other when they video chatted.

Also, can we take a moment to talk about how weird all the characters were about relationships and cheating?? So Florence cheated, which was a shitty thing to do and she admitted it, okay. Then Ashley wants something from Oliver, not caring that he has a boyfriend? Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought this was weird? All while she probably realized in the back of her head that she had a crush on Gideon. Then came this absolutely ridiculous thing of Flo being like “Nate, you need to date someone, uuuh, let's see.. oh, right, just go out with Ashley!” …what? I felt like Ashley had an attitude like “As long as I don't hate you and you're pretty cute, we could totally go out? … or we could have sex?” I just have no words for this, I thought this was absolutely weird and off putting. This whole book was just about who is gonna end up with who in a relationship, the circumstances don't matter. Ashley and Gideon get together at the end and why? Because they realized they kinda like each other? Although I gotta admit, their thing was still the cutest because of their common grounds of videogames, but other than that? Nothing.

Okay, so back on track, Nate and Ollie get together and at first a was kinda cute (Ollie had literally just broken up with Aiden this morning, too) and wohoo, our MCs are finally together. And I was feeling... nothing. Nate kept saying that he had a thing for Oliver, but why? Show me some qualities or quirks that you like about him, or even just show me some scenes to show me how happy you are now that you're apparently dating the love of your life? The characters in this book were so incredibly flat, they felt like cardboard cutouts in a stage play.

So our MCs are together and everything's not as perfect as it could be, which is normal and yes, I like to read about that, but where did all the problems come from? From Nate being an asshole, writing their relationship off pretty much before it even began. I've never seen an MC with such a pessimistic point of view? He kept saying that one of them was just going to get hurt, that they were going to break up eventually and there was apparently nothing he could do, that's just how things were. Wow. In the last third of this book, Nate's sister and Florence actually seemed to voice exactly my concerns and Nate was just brushing them off until he finally realized, at the VERY end of the book, what an asshole he had been.

Apparently, because of the death of his father, Nate had a very specific outlook on life and relationships. He kept saying oh, how is he supposed to date Oliver when one of them will die one day and the other one is going to get hurt. Which has to be the most pessimistic and stupid outlook on life I have ever read, I'm sorry. I don't have any life experience like this, but I just had a hard time believing that someone could actually have such a pessimistic outlook on relationships, especially if they kept whining about how they were in love with their best friend and later on how in love he was with Oliver. Like, on the one hand he wanted a relationship so bad for the first half of the book and now he thinks it's all meaningless anyway?

I've never hated an MC as much as I hated Nate, honestly. I'm not saying characters can't be flawed, but if they are the MAIN character and I'm just cheering for them not to get back together with their love interest at the end of the book, there's gotta be something wrong. Like I said before, Nate was an asshole and I have no idea how he still has friends with how he's behaving. He kept saying hurtful things to other characters throughout the whole book, while fully realizing that he was hurting them. The shit he said to his mom? What a fucking horrible person, I'm sorry. And he apparently he didn't talk to her for several days/weeks? And I know, mom's are probably more forgiving than friends, but how can you be okay with a simple “I'm sorry, mom.”?? I just don't understand. When Nate put his “acceptance latter” down, just because he hadn't won the big price and pretty much already gave up on summer classes? How he kept asking if he should rather break up with Oliver before one of them got hurt? He he flipped at Oliver for telling Ashley about their “sex problems” even though HE had told FLORENCE just a few pages earlier? What is wrong with this character?? Nate kept saying things that make me put my book down and there were a couple times where I thought about not finishing the book and just throwing it in the bathtub. But I hate judging things that I haven't read through to the end, so I made it through.

I know people are probably gonna argue that the book was about the fact that not everyone has a perfect happy ending, like the book was doing itself at the end. Honestly, I didn't want Nate and Oliver to get back together at the end. The shit Nate said to Oliver and how he was a selfish little brat pretty much the whole time they were dating made me root for Oliver to just get out of this relationship, get back with Aiden or whatever, or just be single! Anyone's ever thought about that? Either way I think he would have been better off without Nate in his life.

Reading this was not a fun experience and I really had to force myself through the last 50 pages. A book that makes me hate every decision the main character makes and despise him towards the end, unintentionally, is just not a good book in my eyes and although I really don't like trashing other people's work, I can not at all recommend this book and would advise you not to read it. Or if you really want to, despite all the points I have brought up, read it and build your own opinion. And hey, if you have a totally different opinion and LOVED this book, I'm glad! I'm glad you could find enjoyment in something I just can't wrap my head around.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,509 reviews29.4k followers
February 28, 2020
3.5 stars.

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story is a book about the often-blurry line between friendship and love, and how hard it can be to let yourself be vulnerable.

Can a book touch your heart and annoy the f—k out of you, simultaneously? I'd answer "yes" resoundingly after reading this book. (More on that later.)

Nate is a huge movie fan and dreams of becoming a screenwriter but he doesn’t believe happy endings are possible in real life. Ever since his dad died leaving his mom grieving even years later, he has equated love with getting hurt. It also hasn’t helped that his best friend Florence, whom he dated for a while, broke up with him and yet still seems unsure whether she did the right thing. But she wants him to find someone else, someone to make him happy.

"I don't really know what's worse: living without love so that you don't get hurt, or getting hurt repeatedly in an attempt to find it."

Nate’s emotions are further thrown into turmoil with the return of Ollie, his childhood best friend, on whom Nate had an intense crush before he moved away. Ollie reawakens those feelings again, although he returns from Santa Fe in the middle of a long-distance relationship with a boyfriend. Regardless, Nate is unsure of what he wants—Florence? Ollie? Nothing?

As he tries to write his first script and juggle his feelings, he wonders whether love is even worth pursuing if in the end someone winds up getting hurt or grieving over the end of a relationship. Why risk your heart just to feel pain and sadness? If he keeps pushing people away, what happens then?

I thought this book so perfectly captured the jumble of emotions when you are falling in love with your best friend. It’s really beautifully written.

My issue with the book, however, is that so much of the plot dealt with the characters not telling each other how they felt, but instead pushing people away or lying until someone got angry. Every chapter had one character mad or hurt because of the actions of another, and after a while that got frustrating. I know this might be realistic, particularly among teenagers, but how many times can you read essentially the same thing, where a character doesn't tell another the truth, and everything blows up?

Other than their tendency to avoid conflict and telling the truth, I enjoyed these characters and their complexity. I also loved the way Kacen Callender simply made the characters' sexuality a non-issue. Nate went from Flo to Ollie and no one ever said, "Wait, now you're into guys?" What a wonderful world it would be if things worked that way...

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for mwana .
380 reviews281 followers
April 23, 2023
this is kind of an epic love story... that's what makes it epic. You don't need to die for each other to make this exciting. Just the fact that you're here together- that's enough. That's epic enough.
After reading Callender's latest work, Felix Ever After, I decided they should be a 1-click author. The ringer that I was put through reading Felix's epic love story is one I will gladly sign up for again. Because while there is young adult angst, there is payoff, surprise, closure. And that's all I want in my romance books.

This book didn't turn me into a wrung out marshmallow like Felix's story did but I related with Nathan rather viscerally. He is a neurotic, antisocial writer... well, screenwriter.... he wants to be a screen-wright. He did have an overbearing best friend/ex (the kind of drama I'd rather die than endure), and other friends that were picked straight out of a typical American high school movie. But these little- annoyances- didn't matter. Because the best things about this book are Nate's wariness of happy endings
Happy endings aren't real. American Beauty. The Departed. Melancholia. Memento. They've got it right;

his love for movies I choose The Matrix (third favorite movie of all time)
...the film club moderator gives us Pan's Labyrinth to watch with its English subtitles- my tenth favorite movie of all time
..."You wouldn't stop talking about Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind for months."
"Eighth favorite movie of all time"

and Oliver James.

Ah Oliver James, another most precious cinnamon roll. I just wanted to smush him in heart emojis and ugh Nate describes him best.

He's got brown hair tumbling into his face, brown eyes that shine with the kindness of a thousand nuns, the kind of dimples that'd make even a cold-hearted soul want to pinch his cheeks.
This is kind of an epic love story. But I did have a few issues with it. The ending is rather abrupt. And not in an ambiguous literary way. But more of an "Is that it?" moment because I could have used a few more details. Florence, the ever present bff, needed to learn about this thing called boundaries and frankly I found her pushiness very offputting.

This book has been compared to Simon v The Homo Sapiens Agenda but I wouldn't go that far. It's quite the cavity inducer but it's lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

If you are in the mood for a lovely low stakes young adult contemporary romance with great lgbtq representation with a socially awkward film nerd protagonist, look no further.
September 12, 2020

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THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY is such a good book and it makes me sad that the average rating for the book is so low on Goodreads because I read it in just over a day and loved it so much, even if I do think I understand why so many people seem to have a hard time loving it (more on that in a minute). In some ways, it kind of reads as the prototype version of FELIX EVER AFTER, only with younger characters, but it's also a really great portrayal of diversity, realistically dramatic and tempestuous teen friendships, and the trials and tribulations of first love, so it does stand on its own.

Nate is an aspiring screenwriter who's painfully single. Ever since his dad died, he's had trouble forming close bonds with others because he's terrified of loving and losing again-- after all, everyone has to go away sometimes, why open yourself to hurt? It causes him to push people away and make bad decisions, even though you can kind of get where he's coming from, and how he's dooming himself with his behavior.

He has a close-knit group of friends, which includes his ex, Flo, who cheated on him with the girl she's now dating. There's also Ashley, an aggressively go-getter Hermione Granger type, Gideon, a jock, and, now, Ollie, the "new kid" in school who was actually Nate's closest friend as a child... until Nate kissed him on the day he moved away, which made everything awkward, and caused them never to speak again.

There really isn't a plot to this book, apart from teen boy is awkward and anxious, teen boy meets teen boy who is also awkward and anxious. Boys fall in love but keep messing up because they are bad at communicating with each other because teen boys are gonna teen. Some people complained about the drama and yes, there is a LOT. Everyone has histories with everyone and there's a lot of cheating. Normally, I hate cheating in romances, but I feel like it works better in stories about high school and college because we all know that most of those relationships DON'T last forever, and sometimes falling out with someone you used to like or even love is part of an adult journey. I've said in other reviews that I don't question teenagers making stupid decisions if they make them for believable reasons. There's a difference between a bad decision on behalf of the character and a bad decision on behalf of the author writing as that character, and here, all of the characters felt very real and believable to me.

I loved the diversity of Nate's friend group. Both heroes seem to be either bi or pan (I couldn't really tell, but it seems like both of them have dated or been interested in girls). Ollie is Latinx and I think the hero is Black. His friend, Flo, is Taiwanese and Black and also bi/pan, and I think Ashley and Gideon are white and straight. Ollie is also HoH (hard of hearing) and even though I don't believe this is ownvoices in that regard, it seemed very respectfully done. I liked the signing on the page, and how communication style between him and the other characters was inclusive and respectful and focused on Ollie's needs. I also liked how grief was approached, and how a big part of the story was about Nate's mom sorting out some of her own unresolved psychological trauma, and how a big part of the narrative arc between Nate and his mom was about communication and her learning to let him go.

THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY can be a really frustrating read at times because Nate does not always make the most likable decisions, and sometimes you, the reader, will get really mad at him. But the way he behaves is consistent to his character and it makes watching him learn and grow so much more rewarding as you watch him lower those prickly walls of his and learn to let others in. I think anyone who enjoys YA with topics geared towards older teens (sex, first time, relationships, long-stance relationships, college applications, internships, career decisions, grief, friend drama, etc.) will really enjoy this book, as it ticks a lot of the boxes of what I personally look for and love in YA.

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 18 books2,496 followers
July 11, 2018
Devoured this in a single commute home and it was so. Freaking. Cute. Really excited to see HoH rep in queer lit, because Deaf/HoH characters is actually something I get requests for a lot on the LGBTQReads Tumblr and I almost never have recs except for this one adult f/f Romance. This is just...so much queerness and so much joy, and between two QPoC, no less <3 I'm loving Callender's contributions to kidlit this year, both as an author and as an editor, and I am so excited to see what they come up with next.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
602 reviews812 followers
February 10, 2019
AHHH so cute and sweet and such a fun romance--definitely underrated and I would totally recommend!!!
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,452 reviews2,395 followers
February 13, 2023
First, I want to throw all the characters out of the book. Not the book because I still wanted to read till the end. And I did.

The writing is good. But then there comes a point I want to throw one very frustrating side character out of this book. And yes, we are talking about very confused teenagers who seem so confused about what they feel and are in relationships they aren’t sure about.

There’s nothing outstanding about the characters or the romance or the chemistry of whatever relationship they are trying to have. But the writing is good and the story is realistic. Sometimes it gets too much knowing what the main character is thinking. It’s almost like TMI most of the time.

It is the story of a guy who was in a relationship with his girl best friend. She cheated with a girl and now they are friends again.

Also, the bi rep could have been a lot better.

A childhood friend returns home and they make out while the friend is in a long distance relationship. So here’s the issue everyone is talking about this book.

I read the book. I liked how horribly realistic the characters are like the unbearable typical teenagers we all can think about. They are exactly that but we also know they are young adults trying not to mess up things but messing them more in the process. Just like we all usually do.

So yes it’s a good one for me.

What I like the most about the book is regarding the realistic flawed characters behaving their ages, becoming true to themselves after making mistakes and acting accordingly which I truly appreciate.
Profile Image for - ̗̀ DANY  ̖́- (danyreads).
258 reviews93 followers
December 9, 2018
. : ☾⋆ — 2 ★


This Is Kind of a Lukewarm Love Story?? This Is Kind of an Apathetic Love Story?? I don’t know?? I can think of a million adjectives for this book but ‘Epic’ doesn’t make the top of the list, and I’m really sad about that.

I’ll elaborate. I had high hopes for this one, and from the get go, This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story takes off with a TON of potential. the premise of the book sounds fun and cute, and the characters also start off being pretty standard for a YA contemporary compared to the likes of Becky Albertalli and David Levithan. but ultimately this book settles into a half-baked love story with characters who are FAR too immature for anything that happens in this book. I know they’re a bunch of 16-year-olds—and that this book is, on its own, pretty short—but the complete lack of character development absolutely baffled me. our main character, Nate, didn’t change at all from page 1 to page 300. he’s a hot mess, he’s constantly saying horrible things to his friends and family, he’s pretentious, and he’s, all in all, a very unlikeable main character. I don’t have the physical or emotional willpower to get into the rest of the characters but to summarize: they were mostly also extremely crappy and frustrating people. not good people.

truly the silver lining for me, the ultimate break in the clouds, the savior of this book, was Ollie. representation wise, Ollie is unlike any character I’ve encountered in YA (I’m partly to blame for that, but hey). I’m neither deaf nor hard of hearing, but for personal reasons I’ve been trying to teach myself ASL for a while now, and the physical descriptions of ASL in this book were such a cool thing to stumble upon. I do wish Kheryn Callender would’ve provided with a little bit more context of what the characters were saying whilst signing instead of just the physical descriptions, but it was still such a nice thing to see. back to Ollie, though, he was also so pure hearted and kind all the time, while the rest of the characters were mostly just petty and overly dramatic. he saved the book for me.

on a different note, though, I think mostly I felt like the characters in this book were immature and silly because this is Kheryn Callender’s YA debut, and their one other published book is a Middle Grade book, so I might look into their other book just to see if that was where my issue was coming from?? perhaps their characters just read like MG in a YA environment?? or maybe if Kheryn publishes some more YA in the future, I might read that as well to see how they’ve developed their writing style?? I don’t know. I just feel like this was too much drama for what it ultimately ended up being: a basic, ordinary love story. if a little messy. but ‘Epic’?? not so much.
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,223 reviews254 followers
October 17, 2018
2.75 Stars

I had a hard time with this book. I wanted to love it so much, and I did enjoy it - I think. But so many of the characters frustrated me, and the story felt rushed at times so I found myself apathetic during long stretches of reading. This is Kind of an Epic Love Story follow Nathan Bird and Oliver James Hernandez, childhood best friends, who reconnect and discover they many have more than friendly feelings for each other.

I really loved the diverse representation in the story, both Nathan and Oliver James are queer MOC, and Oliver James is a HoH characters who uses sign language. I thought that the use of ASL translated incredibly well onto the page and I appreciated seeing the representation. This story did bring out a lot of emotions while I was reading - often sadness or frustration, but I did get incredibly happy and joyful seeing some of the beautiful romance and friendship moments play out. But I really did not like most of the characters in the story. I didn’t like Floor Ashley most of the time, and Gideon wasn’t really in it enough for me to form an opinion on him. And Nate also had some not so great moments where I wanted to yell at him for being so dumb.

My frustration at the characters really did bring my overall experience down, And while the story did easily draw emotions from me, they were always positive ones. I still enjoyed This is Kind of an Epic Love Story, but it was not the easiest or most enjoyable read.

I received a copy of the book from Epic Reads in exchange for an honest review. .
Profile Image for Paz R.M..
391 reviews135 followers
November 12, 2018
This was kind of an epic turd.

Listen, I'm gonna try hard to not be an asshole here, but I find it super difficult to see the reason this book was published. I mean, this book has the same depth and complexity of a wannabe hipster, but really really basic high schooler. It was cringey at times, repetitive af, and the MC made the dumbest decisions because of the dumbest reasons. It was a bit problematic, with the cheating and co-dependency, plus the supporting cast of characters were an afterthought, only there to talk and gossip about the romantic life of the MC. Also, this guy is a little bitch to his mom more than once, and also a bitch to his friends and romantic interests, but I mean, what an asshole to his mama and I can't with that.

So, is the reason the diversity this book has? Because, yeah, the MC is, apparently, black, and the ex-girlfriend is biracial? And the romantic interest is latino, or at least his surname is, but they read like your default white people. There's like zero indication this cast is diverse, except for the characters physical description at the very beginning, and I mean it's not like I want Ollie to be reppin' la raza at all moments, but like, give me something with more depth to enjoy this diversity. Also, is everyone queer here? Similarly, I don't need a coming out story or the angst of being in a same sex relationship, but it was all written in the most superficial level. Like seriously, a high schooler could have written this, and I think so much better.

Dunno, ignore all the reviews calling this a rom-com cause of comedy it has nothing. It's a messy book with the same angst over and over again, just because the awful mistakes of the frustrating and immature MC and his useless friends. Also, cheating, and co-dependency. And the most white-ass 'pretentious' love for films. The MC has a list of favorite films that seem like they were taken out of a 'top something great movies of all time' list by whatever critic is hating an MCU movie right now or maybe I just hate Amélie and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but still, every time there was a movie ranked it was so, so pretentious.

Anyway, I'm a bit past the point of giving a free one star just because there was 'diversity'.
I don't recommend this book at all which is such a shame because, the plot sounds like something I'd love and I wanna see female/POC authors succeeding... but, if something is gahbage I gotta say it is. Sorry. Also, it's not my place to talk about the deaf/HoH rep in here, but from what I've learned with my aunt, I dunno, I wasn't super satisfied with it either.
Profile Image for Connor.
693 reviews1,660 followers
May 6, 2021
My Video Review:

Oh boy! This is definitely one that is pretty polarizing for readers. The characters are messy and flawed (cheating and being absolute turds to each other)! Teens in high school can be chaotic and make mistakes especially in the romance department. At least, that was the case when I was in high school. People fall in and out of love a lot at that age. They don't always do the morally correct thing, and I thought this was a pretty realistic depiction of that.

I also will say that this has a more explicit on-the-page sex scene than I've read in many YA books, so know that before going in. Like, it's not overly graphic, but you know which parts of which characters are going where.
Profile Image for Danni Maxwell.
Author 3 books86 followers
August 7, 2018
Okay so let’s break this down because I have some things to say.

I really liked the idea of this book. I did. But I think that’s where I draw the line.

I liked that this book was very diverse, I mean it had a black bisexual MC with a deaf love interest!

But I feel like the characters were very flat. They really didn’t have back stories, and they didn’t have much going on for them. They just didn’t wow me and make me love them.

The story didn’t have a lot going on either; for 80% of the book it was on again off again talking not talking between Nate and Ollie and then we end up with a HFN that really just makes you feel like the book was half finished :/ how am I supposed to grow to love these characters when I barely know them and I barely get to see them happy?

I didn’t like the way Flo (mc best friend) treated and strung Nate along so much either. The other side characters were clueless and annoying too.

I was surprised by the fact that there were actual sex scenes in this book. Not that that’s a bad thing, because sex is a natural part of a teens life and should be represented in YA; I was just surprised that that was a part of story and it was pretty explicit considering.

As much as I loved that there was representation in Ollie as a deaf/hard of hearing individual, during the parts of the story when the characters were signing to each other unless you could gather enough context, you’re reading the motions of the signings, but you really don’t know what they’re saying and the author never really explained what they were saying either and that could get frustrating. I often had to consult my mom (who is fluent in ASL) and even she had issues trying to help me figure it out.

I think the final thing that bothered me was that we never learn how Nate’s father died, but his family is obviously still grieving about it.

These issues I have continued throughout the entire book, and all add up to me feeling like I read a half completed book that I wish could’ve been better.

I think that’s everything I wanted to say.

Profile Image for ana.
124 reviews
December 8, 2018
i really really really wanted to like this book. childhood friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes and the mcs were poc and the li was hard of hearing !!!! good concept bad execution

first of all i didn’t even get to the 50% of the book and i swear tried to get there but at the end of the day i was like am i really going to put myself through this ??? why ??? im getting nothing out of this book. so i ended my suffering

i don’t know how to write reviews so im just gonna say everything i hated about it

— the characters: they were all so annoying and i wanted to deck all of them. nate was the worst. the only thing he did was complain and i couldn’t stand him.
ollie was okay i guess he just didn’t have a personality and i hope he got one at some point.
florence was a horrible friend. she knew nate still liked her but she still insisted to be friends with him and for him to get along with her gf (the same girl she cheated on him with) like. who does that.

— the cheating: idk if this was just me but there was way too many cheating
florence cheated on nate with lydia and then broke up with him to be with her and when they were hanging out florence and nate kissed while she was still dating lydia
and in the next chapter nate kissed ollie knowing ollie had a whole ass boyfriend ?????
and that thing with ashley. she liked (??) gideon and gideon liked her but ashley wanted to ask ollie out and florence wanted nate to ask ashley out but they all knew ashley liked gideon??? it was so weird

— the dialogue: i can get through some bad/cringey dialogue but there was this line that really made me want to end it all. it was the one where florence and nate meet

“I’ll be your friend,” she said as she put the pen to paper, “but I’m not going to be your Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or pull you into some super-crazy life drama that ends in a road trip to South Carolina.”

WHO TALKS LIKE THAT if some girl wants to be friends with me and says that ill run away from her.

so that’s it. bye

Profile Image for BookNightOwl.
977 reviews173 followers
June 30, 2021
I'm working on reading everything from Kacen Callender. This deals with relationships, friendships and family. The story was okay for me but there was a lot of things going on that it felt very juvenile even though it dealt with teenage things. B-
Profile Image for Repellent Boy.
502 reviews521 followers
September 9, 2022
3,5. Nate no cree en los finales felices, la muerte repentina de su padre hace años y como su madre aún lo añora, lo hacen escéptico sobre que las relaciones amorosas puedan durar para siempre. Para colmo, su amiga Florence, fue su novia Florence hasta hace poco, pasando a ser nuevamente su amiga Florence, y aunque delante de ella trata de fingir que lo tiene superado, la realidad es muy diferente. Por si fuera poco, su antiguo mejor amigo y vecino, Oliver James, acaba de volver. Hace años, su amistad se truncó de manera brusca. ¿Cómo gestionará Nate este revoltijo de emociones?

Sin ningún tipo de duda para mí “Una historia de amor épica” tiene tres cosas muy buenas: dos protagonistas extremadamente tiernos, personajes muy diversos y temas tratados de una manera muy natural. La primera virtud que nombro puede parecer que esté garantizada en este tipo de historias tiernas, pero no siempre se consigue trasladar ese algo tan cuqui que tienen Oliver y Nate, creo que le autore los dota rápidamente de esa cosita que es dulce, pero no llega a ser nunca cursi. Ayuda bastante que su protagonista no es perfecto y, a causa de sus miedos, se equivoca constantemente.

La diversidad en sus personajes y en la vida de estos, es una cosa que cada vez valoro más a la hora de leer obras recientemente publicadas. Y lo que me gusta mucho de este libro es que en ningún momento hay dramas o choques entre los personajes por estas diferencias, y esto me llega a la tercera cosa buena, y la que más me ha gustado de esta obra: la naturalización. Nate es bisexual y punto. No hay nada más que hablar del tema, ni para él, ni para ninguno de los personajes del libro. A muchos esto les sonara a utopía, y bueno puede ser, pero por algún lado habrá que empezar a naturalizar ¿no? Y la cultura siempre es educación.

También me gusta especialmente como se trata el tema de que Oliver sea sordo, o mejor dicho, como no se trata. Quiero decir, no hay un momento de “aprender de”, “tratar de entender”, “adaptarse a” o malentendidos varios. Oliver es sordo y es una característica más, como que tiene el pelo rizado y que le encanta la fotografía. Muchas veces cosas que tratan de ser inclusivas, me chirrían porque parecen señalar más que normalizar y leer esto ha sido una delicia en ese sentido.

Creo que también es muy importante que los jóvenes (y no tan jóvenes) puedan leer esta novela y vean que una historia de amor no solo puede ser entre dos chicos, sino que además uno puede ser negro y el otro latinoamericano, porque si hasta hace poco era difícil dar con una historia con una relación no normativa, esperar que además no sean siempre todos blanco ya era misión imposible. La pega que le pongo es que me ha faltado un algo más en el final, no por como acaba en sí, que me ha gustado, sino porque lo he visto algo apresurado y me apetecía disfrutar un pelín más del desenlace y de Nate y Oliver. Por lo demás, promete dósis de ternurita y las da. No me cansaré de alabar la labor tan impresionante que está llevando a cabo Kakaobooks. Quiero leer todo su catálogo. Me hace reencontrarme y reconciliarme con el adolescente que fui y con el que no pude ser.
Profile Image for Natasha.
477 reviews382 followers
January 29, 2019
Review also on my blogTwitterBookstagram

Rep: Black queer main character, Deaf gay Hispanic love interest, m/m romance

Well… uh… this was a massive disappointment, to put it lightly at least. I’ve been really excited to read this, and I’ve been waiting for it to be available at my library after requesting it. Finally got around to it and this wasn’t what I’d expected. I do get a little spolier-y but I can’t fully go into my issues without mentioning those things.

I don’t know about you but I adore friends-to-lovers. That was what drew me to this book. But here’s what you should know going in: Oliver James ‘Ollie’ has a boyfriend. That brought a sense of emotional cheating and that really ruined things for me.

The way cheating is handled in this was not the best. Nate’s ex Flo cheated on him with a girl (I’ll avoid going into how overplayed sapphic girls cheating on their male partner is) but they maintained a friendship afterwards. Cheating was never challenged, especially later around Ollie and Nate’s relationship.

Also, funnily enough this is not the first book I’ve read where the main character had a broken arm throughout the whole thing. I think that might’ve just served to make it harder for Nate to sign but I can’t be sure.

As far as the characters, there’s a fine line between realistic teenagers and extremely annoying characters. A constant thing Nate did was if he ever referred to a movie he’d say “it’s my eleventh favourite movie” or something like that. I’m not a movie buff or anything but I just don’t think someone obsessed with movies would do that.

I liked Ollie. He filled the role as Cute Love Interest well enough. He was my favourite part of the book.

The side characters could’ve had more personality. Flo didn’t have more to her than being the Supportive Girl. And Ashley didn’t seem to have any other personality than liking video games and her crush on her friend. They’re side characters, so I wouldn’t expect fully fleshed out but they did come off as flat sometimes.

The romance was… not my favourite. It all comes back to the cheating. Nate kissed Ollie knowing he had a boyfriend and there felt to be emotional cheating on Ollie’s part. It was never challenged and it made me not enjoy the romance. I really hoped this would be a cute and fun queer romcom but it wasn’t.

I’m so upset this was a disappointment. I might read things in the future by Callender since I did like their writing but this was an unfortunate let down.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,534 reviews234 followers
October 11, 2018
Between the books referenced in the synopsis and the too cute for words cover, I knew I had to read this book, and Callender delivered on everything that was promised.

Nate was one super sweet and wonderfully awkward hero. Gosh! I loved him to bits! Nate was down with love, and feared letting himself fall again. He spent a lot of the book wrestling with his complicated feelings and complicated relationships, but that was all part of his journey. His exploration was honest and thoughtful, and I know I was rooting for him to take a chance on love.

Nate was lucky and had a pretty awesome squad by his side. First of all, they were all so interesting. Flo was an animator, Ashley was a gamer, Gideon was an athlete, and Oliver James was a photographer. Each person had something they were really passionate about, they each had something that was theirs, but they also shared in some way with each other. Their group dynamic was really interesting too. They had their ups and downs, like everyone does, but in the end, they were always there for each other, and the love they shared was really special.

I loved Nate's sister as well. These siblings shared a special bond, and Nate's sister was a great cheerleader for him. She encouraged him to pursue his screenplay writing dreams, as well as nudging him to follow his heart.

A lot of people are going to talk about the diversity in this book, because let's face it, there are not a ton of books out there featuring queer POCs, and even less featuring queer POCs, who are hard of hearing. Callender organically worked in descriptions of signs and other ways the characters communicated with Oliver, which I loved. But what really stood out to me, was how Callender allowed their characters to just be who they were. There was no coming out and no labeling. It's sort of how it should be, where people just love who they love. No explanations necessary. And why did I love that? Because this book was not about being queer per se, it was a love story, and it was a sweet and adorable love story at that.

This book was near perfection for me. The one thing that would have put this over the top is if it had an epilogue. The ending was good, but too brief. It was like the beginning of an ending, and I just needed a little bit more. Don't misunderstand me. I was smiling with tears of joy in my eyes, when I finished this book, but I needed to know a little bit more about the near future for the characters, because I cared so much about them and their future together.

This book was about so many things. It was about second chances and following your heart. It was about friendship, being a friend, and family. It was about pain, grief, and loss. But mostly, it was about love, and the different ways it can permeate our lives.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jay G.
1,279 reviews461 followers
September 6, 2018
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

*I received this copy in exchange for my honest review!*

3.5/5 Stars

After his best friend, now ex-girlfriend Flo breaks up with him, 16-year old Nathan shies away from relationships in order to avoid further heartbreak. His childhood best friend Oliver James Hernandez, who he hasn't seen in 5 years, moves back to his old house across the street. Nathan quickly realizes that his feelings for Ollie never went away and he needs to decide whether he wants to open himself up to heartbreak for his chance at a happily ever after.

This story is adorable and reads so quickly! It has an amazing diverse cast including a deaf/hard of hearing character and two queer PoC! The characters are so lovable and relatable and you can't help rooting for them. For the most part, I understood why Nathan made some of the decisions that he did, but I still wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake him. At times, things he said towards his family and friends were very problematic, but it was dealt with effectively and he realized that what he said was wrong and hurtful. It was a bit frustrating that his character didn't seem to develop as the story progressed, he would say something, feel bad, apologize but then do it again. Ollie was so pure and adorable, I just wanted to protect him at all costs and he deserves the world. I can't say that I particularly liked the relationship between Ollie and Nate as they spent most of the book fighting or ignoring each other.

I do wish we got more of a backstory behind the main characters, but overall I still liked them. I didn't like Flo as a character though, I felt like for the most part she was just stringing Nate along and taking advantage of his feelings for her. I also didn't enjoy Gideon and Ashley as characters either and found them annoying and clueless for the most part.

I loved the frequent use of sign language in the book but it wasn't made out to be something bigger than it was. I think it was a great inclusion to the overall feel of the book and characters. I also really liked how sex was portrayed in the book like it wasn't a giant aspect of the story but it was discussed in a safe and effective manner. I also liked how the main characters discussed what they wanted and asked for consent the entire time. It was nice to see sex so normalized!

Overall, super cute and fluffy! Great for rom-com fans!
Profile Image for Alison.
771 reviews29 followers
February 12, 2019
I didn't connect with this book at all, but I'm glad I read it and I'm glad mainstream publishers are putting out diverse queer YA romance. It's a fairly ordinary coming-of-age high school romance (except that it's queer, which makes it notable), but it's got a couple of things going for it that are pretty remarkable. One, that both leads are queer men of colour and that's what's on the cover. How often does that happen? And how awesome is that? The easy diversity in this book is refreshing and real-world. Plus, Oliver James is hard of hearing and uses sign language, which I haven't read often in romance. It's pretty cool. Two, this book is quietly super queer. Most of the secondary characters are queer and no one talks about it, it just is. Nate never names his sexual identity, he just likes who he likes, no big deal. Labels are extremely important, but sometimes it can be powerful to not have them, and this book avoids labels to great effect. The queerness simply exists.

However, this book had a lot of issues, such as the annoying and pushy female best friend (why is that so prevalent in books with male MCs?), the lacklustre romance, the lacklustre everything, and the jackass main character. Nate even says at one point that he's an asshole and it's absolutely true. He is an unlikable main character and he's a jerk. We're in his POV, so we know why he's a jerk, but that doesn't make it any more tolerable. He learns over the course of the book and improves somewhat, but he's a jerk throughout. Too bad.

Three stars because it's diverse queer YA romance and deserves three stars for that alone. This one didn't work for me, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Marija.
216 reviews2 followers
December 4, 2020
“I’m realizing it doesn’t really matter if we have a happy ending or not. We’re happy right now. That’s the important part, right?”
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,857 reviews684 followers
June 13, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5

I thought this story was so cute, and I loved some of the characters. But ultimately, it was a little rushed and because of that, I didn't end up loving this as much as I hoped I would. I really did enjoy it though!

I definitely did enjoy this more the second time around. Nate is a very relatable main character, and I love the romance as well. However, I did not like the way cheating was handled.

Rep: no labels are used, but I think the main character is bi and the love interest is gay. Black main character, Deaf Latinx love interest, f/f romance, Black side character.

CWs: grief, death of a parent, depression, anxiety, cheating.
Profile Image for Adri.
986 reviews799 followers
December 14, 2018
*long sigh* I was ready to love this one sooooo badly, but unfortunately it didn't quite live up to the big "fun and fluffy rom-com" sell promised in the synopsis. And I'm lowkey relieved to be done with it.

Will definitely be reading Kheryn Callender's other work though, because they have keen insight and talent. This story just didn't work for me, sadly.
Profile Image for Caden.
269 reviews7 followers
September 9, 2022
Profile Image for Montse R.D..
Author 5 books178 followers
September 7, 2022
3'5 en realidad
Reseña completa: AQUÍ

'Una historia de amor épica' es un libro que nos presenta a Nate, un adolescente con sentimientos confusos, ganas de independencia y libertad, una madre algo protectora, una hermana que lo adora, buenos amigos y que vive un reencuentro muy especial.
Él no cree en los finales felices porque tiene miedo a la pérdida, a sufrir, a que las cosas no salgan bien, y eso le lleva a dudar a la hora de tomar decisiones y arriesgarse en el amor. Pero poco a poco irá cambiando, encontrando la manera de convertirse en adulto, de que su madre lo tome en serio sin ese miedo a perderlo, de aceptar lo que siente y hacerle frente, y, sobre todo, de ser feliz sin miedo a lo que pueda pasar.
Es un libro que me ha gustado mucho, en el que los personajes actúan y hacen idioteces como los adolescentes que son, y que tiene una historia de amor muy bonita, con inclusión, aceptación, normalidad y naturalidad.
Os lo recomiendo si os gustan este tipo de historias porque os va a emocionar seguro.
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