High school can be a confusing time of anyone’s life, and Finn has a few extra challenges: his family has moved from Texas to Colorado just before his senior year and everything is different, he is not exactly a jock nor has he ever been popular, and he is not interested in girls. As he settles in and begins to make friends, he finds out that on the one hand life isn’t as bad as he expected, but on the other it is much worse. His story is one of dealing with a teenager’s everyday obstacles, the realization that he is even more different from others than he suspected, and a lot of new experiences, both good and bad. This story focuses on the emotional side of growing up and beginning to define one’s place in the world. There is not much action or external conflict, but the inner conflict Finn faces is challenging.
Finn’s expectations around living in a small town are not high. He doesn’t even know how he’ll spend his time – until he meets Ivan at the farmer’s market his parents drag him to, and things change. Ivan is involved in the wolf and wild dog refuge his parents run, and Finn is fascinated by the creatures. He soon begins to volunteer at the center, helping out with the animals’ care and getting to know Ivan and Ivan’s friend, Adrian. Finn discovers that he is interested in Ivan, maybe as more than a friend, and hesitantly begins to admit he has feelings for him.
The confusion Finn feels when he realizes that Adrian is almost always around when he wants to do something with Ivan is considerable. Much of the novel deals with the three young men figuring out how they all relate to each other, what attraction means to them both emotionally and physically, and how being asexual (in Adrian’s case) changes a lot of what Finn and Ivan take for granted. The slow blossoming of their three-way relationship is beautifully written, and how they end up deciding and defining who they are to each other was both agonizing and a joy to watch.
I think that the supporting characters also deserve a mention. From the school bullies, who are after Adrian at every opportunity, to Finn’s parents and his younger sister, each of them were as real to me as Finn, Adrian, and Ivan. They each have their own issues to deal with, and whether it was one of the bullies beginning to realize what effect his actions had on Adrian, or whether it was Finn’s sister starting to grow up, they all had a contribution to make.
If you like reading about teenagers discovering the world and defining who they are, if you want to see a three-way relationship develop between young men who are just beginning to explore their sexuality, and if you’re looking for a read that is emotionally intense and heartwarming, then you will probably like this novel as much as I do. It’s a fantastic exploration of what it means to be “different” on more than one level.
See the full review here.