You can’t run away from life, your problems, or puberty….
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT
No. of pages: 255
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.
I’ve been on a kick with GLBTQI+ titles recently, I think it’s that searching for identity and forbidden love thing… I hope that doesn’t say something about my state of mind at the present time… moving on. I was looking for a sweet contemporary in ‘One Man Guy’ and that’s exactly what I got.
I really enjoyed the cultural references from our protagonist Alek’s heritage – Armenian history and lifestyle; not to mention the food. I got hunger pains just reading the descriptions off the page.
There are some themes that really shone for me – standing up for yourself, fighting for what is right, acceptance when facing adversity… all about courage, mirroring what the Armenian culture itself has had to endure.
All of the characters are flawed and struggle with their own demons, and it was a wonderfully diverse and fully rounded cast that brought this story to life.
There is a strong sense of family and tradition. An expectation of carrying on a legacy. Coming from an Australian household, this experience was unique and not something I had in my upbringing.
Apart from these aspects, ‘One Man Guy’ fell a bit flat for me. I expected it to be funnier. There were a few laugh out loud moments, but for some reason I felt the narrative set up the premise that there would be more hilarity. But this is only a minor, personal misgiving.
Alek and Ethan are fun realistic characters and I loved how they approached life and family. You can really feel the different atmospheres of both of their homes. I particularly liked Nana – she an endearing character, reminding me of all the grandparents of my friends, sitting with them at the dinner table at sleepovers. That too was something which I experienced little and my Grandparents lived half a continent away… their presence, habits, little sayings and stories all add to the sense of family heritage. Nana especially embraces the old Armenian ways and language which I found to be the heart and soul of Alek’s home.
This is a fairly easy read – slow in the first half, with a better flow for the latter part. I ended up putting this book down a number of times due to disinterest. I wasn’t exactly bored, but it failed to capture me. All the characters were relatable, but the narrative could have been more upbeat and engaging – possibly due to my expectations of a more comedic read. But nonetheless a quaint modern contemporary.
Overall feeling: cool, calm and collected
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