What if you were a queer teenage musician outed by his vengeful ex-boyfriend and not a fairy tale princess trapped in a castle tower? What if your wicked stepmother was your ordinary, thoughtless, uncaring mother? What if your fairy godmother was your older brother? What if your Prince Charming was captain of the JV soccer team? Maybe you’d be forgiven for not realizing you were living in a sort of fairy tale.
Faced with the impossible choice of staying home to risk being sent away to Father Sullivan’s special school for exceptionally happy boys or moving in with his older brother in California, 16-yr-old Jack Martin leaves behind everything he knows in Minneapolis to go to San Francisco.
This was an absolute delight to read! It was so nice to read a Queer story that was filled with so much joy and hope, but that didn’t shy away from the realities of being a Queer teen. This, I think this threw me a little at first, everything was always going so well that I was waiting for something to go seriously wrong for Jack but it didn’t happen, not like I expected anyway. I realised a little while in that the hopefulness of the story, and the series of lucky events read just like the fairy tale the novel’s tag line promised. I loved this novel for that.
I loved as well that Jack seemed so disbelieving in his good circumstances after such a rough start to the beginning of this story. It would be so easy for him to take it all for granted, but he questions it before he accepts all the good things happening to him. I think this really does align with a lot of Queer stories (and for people’s stories in general, but in this specific context, Queer stories especially) where the person has it rough for so long that when things start heading in a positive direction it seems almost impossible. This made Jack’s character, so much more genuine for me.
I did find though that some of the dialogue felt a little off, especially the regular use of “bro” used between Jack and his brother, and “babe” used between Jack and Damon. Those dialogue choices almost brought me out of the story as I read. if I also found there was a lot of narrative that slowed down for the story for me.
The relationship between Jack and Damon was really sweet. I especially loved Jack’s awkward, and almost fumbling internal dialogue, especially when he was around Damon or thinking about him. It felt so natural for his character and the story.
As I said before this was a really lovely romance to read. Pick this one up if you are looking for a heartwarming read with engaging characters and great plot.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for gifting me this ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 27th September 2022.