Thursday, September 13, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

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Title: It Looks Like This
Author: Rafi Mittlefehldt
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Pages: 336
Pub Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick
Book Source: personal collection
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis: 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.
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*** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ***

Let me preface this review by saying that I listened to this book on audio. I noticed A LOT of complaints about there being a lack of quotations around the dialogue. Since I listened to this one, that wasn't an issue for me. I can't speak on the physical/e-book reading experience.

This book is the story of 15-year-old Mike. Mike is a closeted gay teen who doesn't even really know he's gay until feelings begin to arise when he befriends a basketball player from his school—Sean. Both of these guys come from very religious homes with very strict and misguided parents, thus when they begin a relationship they have to keep it secret from everyone. Not only is this a battle at home, but also in school. Bullying is very much highlighted in this book and that is something I am personally passionate about. Unfortunately, one of these bullies discovers Mike and Sean's relationship and records the two kissing. This guy alerts their parents to this, setting in motion a horrifyingly sad series of events.

**SPOILERS AHEAD!**

Lets talk about the characters! Okay, so, Sean is amazing. He's sweet, caring, and easy-going. I enjoyed his character and found his personality to be realistic and endearing. Mike, however, I struggled with. You see, upon being caught in a gay relationship by his family, he is confronted with the idea of going to a religious "camp" where they basically de-gay you. I struggled with this part of the story and the fact that Mike ends up going there willingly because he feels ashamed. This makes the story seem dated. Who even believes in conversion camps anymore? Ew.

As for side characters, well, I loved Toby. She was Mike's younger sister. The girl was hilarious and I enjoyed her. The parents? Well, they were well-written, but all of them were truly disgusting to me with how they treated their sons. Abomination.

The most impactful part of this book is a death. This hit me very hard and made me cry real tears. I wasn't completely surprised by it, but it left me reeling. This death gives the main character an entirely new look at his current situation and on life in general, so although it was a tragedy, at least something positive came from it.

All in all, this book was moving and beautiful. It was tragic, but important. The characters were well-written and relatable. I enjoyed the storyline and I think the author wrapped up the book nicely. I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA reads or anything LGBTQIA+ themed.
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