It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt
"A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands. Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and "hey" becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand."- summary from Amazon
A fantastic, heartbreaking story of first love, family, discovering who you are, and standing up for yourself and your truth. I've never read a YA novel told like this, in such beautiful yet simple prose; it was honestly a breath of fresh air once I got into the story and became invested in Mike's story. And it really is a heartbreaking novel- there were several times throughout that made me very sad, especially realizing that there are many stories like this in the real world- but ultimately in the end, it's uplifting. The friendship between Sean and Mike that blossoms into something resembling a relationship (albeit a secret one) is extremely sweet and, in a way, uncomplicated. There are definitely factors that keep them from being open about their love for each other, but it seemed like whenever they were together, nothing else seemed to matter and the affection they had for each other showed. I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone, and I cannot wait to see what Mittlefehldt releases next.
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.