Wednesday, June 25, 2014

REVIEW: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva is a mix of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Of course it's more like Alek and Ethan's Rufus Lovelist and "My Big Fat Armenian Summer" - teen's discovering love in NYC mixed with Armenian culture. 

Aleksander Khederian is 14-years-old and looking forward to his summer of freedom until his parents drop the bomb that they have enrolled him in summer school in order to improve his grades for the upcoming year. His mother and father take much pride in raising two intelligent, kind, open-minded, well-rounded Armenian sons. On top of that the family, including perfectly Armenian academic older broker Nik, will be going on vacation without him. Always one to listen to his parents sage advice (aka he has no choice) Alek goes to summer school where he meets bad boy Ethan and his group of Drop Out friends. Alek finds himself fascinated by Ethan who saved him from getting his face bashed in during the first week of summer school. From there Alek's summer takes a turn towards the amazing when he is forced on a journey into New York City from their New Jersey suburb by Ethan. After spending time with the out and proud skater boy, Alek discovers that he has feelings for him and comes to terms with his own sexuality. There is no melt down. He is very secure in who he is as a person. He's gay and Ethan is his dream man and all is well. That's one thing that is so admirable about this book: Alek accepts that he is gay as do his parents and brother. Always refreshing to read. Once his parents find out about his summer shenanigans they are mostly upset that Alek has skipped school to go on adventures in NYC, not that he is in a relationship with another guy. The dialogue is quick, sarcastic and funny with most of this coming from Alek's rollerblading best friend Becky. It is a modern love that is smartly written and is rooted in present day New York. With references to NYC's High Line, needing a sticker (no longer a pin) to get into the Met, Rufus Wainwright music and 2(X)ist underwear One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva is an intelligent and current LGBTQ love story. Throw a little bit of Armenian history, food and tradition in there for family context. This book wreaks of summer in the city. Not like garbage in the heat, but like fresh grass in Central Park. Oh, and it's yellow.

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