Release Date: 9th February 2021
Genres: New Adult, Romance, LGBT+
CW: abortion, drug addiction, abusive relationships, PTSD, and self-harm
William Anson is done with relationships, thanks. He’s starting the second year of his medicine degree single, focused, and ready to mingle with purely platonic intentions. Meeting Daniel, a barely recovered drug addict ready to start living life on his own terms, might just change that. There are two problems. One: William isn’t out. What’s the point in telling your friends you’re bisexual when you aren’t going to date anyone? Two: Daniel’s abusive ex-boyfriend still roams the university campus, searching for cracks in Daniel’s recovery. No matter how quickly William falls for Daniel, their friendship is too important to risk ruining over a crush. William is fine with being just friends for the rest of forever. Well, not quite. ~ Goodreads
I’d like to first start my post with a few disclaimers. The author is one of my best friends, this has not influenced my opinion of the book but I wanted to be honest. I also don’t condone the actions of SRL Publishing and how they have been treating us as readers, we and the author deserve much better than that, but I think that Louise still deserves to have a good release week for her debut book and it’s unfair to lump her in with the publisher’s negative behaviour when she didn’t partake in it herself.
One of the things that I liked most about this book was the writing. You can clearly see how much time and care was spent on writing and editing this book because the end result was beautiful. Though some moments felt a little rushed, such as the first meeting, I liked how it was able to really slow down and make you live in the present with these characters. It is the very definition of slow burn romance. The romance itself was really well written and developed and I’m glad that they were able to grow as friends before becoming more.
The representation of bisexuality in this book is some of the best representation that I’ve ever read. I know myself and many others will really relate to how Will feels not quite out throughout the book, even when people around him are open and telling him that it’s okay. I really related to the feelings of inadequacy, not being queer enough, and not knowing if/how/when to even do it. I think it was really important that despite all this that the author was really clear about Will being bisexual from the very beginning. So many books refuse to even use the word so it was refreshing for it to be used in such a normalised and honest way.
Another thing that is incredibly normalised in this book is seeking help, developing support systems, and having therapy. I think it’s really important to show people that it’s okay to struggle and that getting help when you need to is a strong thing to do. The book is targeted towards a new adult audience, a time of life that is incredibly difficult and stressful as you start to navigate the world on your own and find your place, and it’s a message that people of that age really need to hear. I love that Dan regularly talks to a therapist in the book and that it is shown to help him. My own experience with therapy wasn’t very helpful, but I had a negative mindset and didn’t engage, portrayals like this will give people hope and allow them to see it’s potential.
The book in general is full of representation, for sexuality, mental illness, and more. I’m aware of the negative feedback this book has received surrounding the portrayal of addiction, abusive relationships, and abortion, but it wouldn’t be my place to comment on the accuracy of these portrayals. I know that the author always has and always will have good intentions, any inaccuracies would not have been done on purpose to lessen the severity or romanticise them. It is one of the only books I’ve ever read with printed content warnings which is something that I really appreciate and think all books should do. None of the topics were used for cheap shock value because it was always clear from the start that they would be part of the story with the intent of representation which is really refreshing.
The characters in this book feel very real. They all have hopes, dreams, flaws, problems, and more. They make mistakes like any normal person would and they don’t always do the right thing, but this is a very human quality and I loved the book for it. One character in particular who I really liked and I wish we had seen more of is Lilley. She came into the story a lot more towards the end, but I would have loved to know even more about her and for us to spend more time with her throughout. The main character, Will, was a great character to follow, despite how frustrating he could be at times. In a way, how frustrating he was is one of the things that makes him endearing. I also really loved Dan and I think that they really compliment each other well and make a good team together.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and am really grateful that I had the opportunity to read it. I can’t wait to read anything and everything else that they write in the future because I’m sure it will be just as beautiful!