One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
"Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything "these Americans" could come up with? 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 freshmen 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. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. 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."- summary from Amazon
I absolutely loved this book. I will admit though that I'm usually biased toward gay books because I just love reading gay YA, so take my review with a grain of salt. I really enjoyed the budding friendship and eventual relationship between Alek and Ethan. It's so wonderful to see a romance (regardless if it's straight or gay) that really takes its time with the characters and doesn't rush into things quickly. Alek is still a bit confused about his feelings toward Ethan, and I think a lot of young teens will be able to relate to that.
The book is a bit quaint but I attribute that to Alek's traditional upbringing and it makes sense that he's naïve and unknowledgeable about various things that Ethan then introduces to him. But Alek has a few tricks up his sleeve too, and it's so cute seeing the two of them interact. There's also some great scenes with Alek's family and the emotional arc involving them is handled so well too.
Overall, Barakiva has written a fantastic debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from him! Don't forget to check out my interview with him from the other day!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.