Boy meets boy, what could go wrong? Well, quite a lot if the setting is Provo, Utah, one of those boys is a Mormon, and the other one is writing a novel about their relationship that someone is going to have to read one day. And there you have Autoboyography, a cute, charming book about two boys, Tanner and Sebastian, the people who support them and the people who don’t, and the struggles of writing stories.
Here’s the Amazon blurb:
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah. But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity. It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
I thought this book was great! Not only is the cover absolutely GORGEOUS, but the book just charmed me. Tanner’s narrative voice was funny and genuine and also so realistic of a teenager in love and dealing with their parents and navigating weird social situations. The character of Autumn was probably my favorite though, except when Tanner called her Auty which made me cringe, because she felt like a grounding force of this novel and when the big plot twist happens, I love how she held it together and was the voice of reason, like “Yes X happened but we are going to survive and thrive and it will be FINE.” The way the authors (yes, Christina Lauren is actually two people named…you guessed it..Christina and Lauren) navigated the tension between the two families (one progressive and one religious) and the way that each boy interacted with faith well without being too condemning of what side was ultimately in the wrong, or at least in the not-right.
While I enjoyed the conceit, I don’t think it played out as well as it could in the course of the novel. I like how the writing seminar wrapped everything together at the beginning and the end and provided Tanner and Sebastian a reason to see each other throughout the novel, but Tanner’s working on the writing seminar just didn’t feel genuine, especially as someone currently in a very similar situation. He was way too preoccupied with other things (outside of Tanner) and I find it hard to believe he wrote as much as he did, but maybe I’m not being nitpicky.
Overall, this is a super cute, charming read about two boys, neither or whom really knows who they are in this world they find themselves in, and I think you’ll really enjoy it if you loved Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.