Book Review: One Man Guy (by Michael Barakiva)

I never did deliver on that regular post, but here’s another book review. This one was received from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. 

One Man GuyOne Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alek is a teenager with a traditional Armenian family, an assertive best friend, and several weeks of summer school that he’s not looking forward to. Then he meets Ethan, a classmate who seems like the coolest person in the world to Alek. As they form first a friendship, then a relationship, Ethan’s comfort with himself helps Alek find his own identity.

At times, I found the plot to be too simple. The conflicts in the book were easily solved, almost to the point where there was no conflict. Situations that could have had more tension and development were no big deal. There were some areas where this was appreciated. For instance, Alek’s coming out? No big deal. And I liked that it was something that was accepted easily by friends and family. I know there’s conflict in real life for people coming out…I like that the story encouraged acceptance as part of the norm.

Other things, such as Alek’s strict family suddenly becoming easy to get along with because their sons made dinner, seemed to be a stretch, especially when it was preceded by a heavy dose of racism and ignorance on their part (which fit the context of story, making their one eighty seem even more unrealistic).

There were a lot of good things about the book though. The story itself was cute and well told. Alek’s friend Becky is a fun character, Ethan really does come across as cool and confident, and Alek’s snarky sense of humor was entertaining. It was hard for me to like the rest of his family, which was probably the point. What I did like was the cultural descriptions of the Armenian family life and the narrative of some of their traditions and beliefs. It added to the story and gave it a second layer. Not only was this a book about a young man discovering his homosexuality, but it was also a book about a young man coming to terms with his family’s strong beliefs and mores.

Overall, a strong first novel and an enjoyable read.

View all my reviews

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