Author: Carmen-Shea Hepburn
Publication Date: 14 March 2016
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters, POC
TW: child abuse, homophobia, homophobic family, self harm, internalized homophobia, racism
Summary: Set in Amanzimtoti, South Africa, the story follows Wayne du Preez as he starts his matric. Completing his final year of high school won’t be his only problem, however, when a boy from his childhood makes a surprise reappearance in small town Toti, throwing Wayne’s picket-fence dreams with girlfriend Jess into a tailspin and forcing him to deal with a part of himself he’s been denying ever since he shared his first kiss with Kyle way back when.
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Disclaimer: I recieved and e-copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Wayne has been living a pretty normal life in Amanzimtoti. He likes to surf and hang out with his girlfriend and her brother. At the moment he’s struggling with his last year of high school, at once anxious for school to be over, but on the other hand terrified of losing touch with his friends. But everything gets messed up when his childhood friend Kyle returns. Eight years ago they kissed each other, but Wayne’s father found out and punished his son severely for his “perverted” feelings. Wayne has got over it hasn’t he? He is normal, right? But Kyle’s return erodes the walls he’s built around his life.
I love Travis and Jessica, their friendship and support of Wayne are wonderful to read. Jess is a very patient and loving girlfriend, because while she questions Wayne and worries about him, she also gives him space when he needs it. Travis worries about his best friend too, but he also loves his sister and would do anything to protect her. Their sibling bond was wonderful.
None of those kids has a healthy home environment so they cling into each other a lot. Jessica’s and Travis’ step mother, a white woman, abuses them for being mixed-race. Their father doesn’t care, he only cares about his cute white baby. Wayne’s father and brother beat him for having kissed another boy and now monitor everything he does. Jessica and Travis don’t know what his family’s behavior is about but they worry about Wayne. There are some good grown ups however, I truly love Kyle’s Ouma and Mrs Vector ❤ They show Wayne the support he desperately needs and does not get from his family.
Wayne lives in South Africa and there is a glossary for the slang words used, which is truly lovely as it felt truly real.
All in all I enjoyed this book, even though it wasn’t easy to read. There is a lot of self hatred and self harm and panic attacks and abuse and racism. It’s not a happy high school story dealing with a bit of self doubt, it’s not a light read, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
The only problem I had with the book is that it starts really slow and it took me nearly half of the book to truly feel a connection to the characters, but after that I was unable to put the book down or pause.
The ending is a bit of a cliff hanger, but it was some good promises for the next book and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
Why I read it: A teen boy struggling with his identity set in South Africa?! Nice!
Do I recommend it: Definitely. It is an amazing book and I enjoyed it a lot. Just you know, be careful with the trigger warnings, if child abuse, self harm or homophobia is not something you want to read about you probably shouldn’t read this book as it can be quite graphic at times.