Cirrus’s Book Club: One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva

In some of my reviews I’ve mentioned how LGBTI young adult books are getting more diverse in the stories they tell. “One Man Guy” isn’t one of them. It’s a “boy meets boy” book, and “realising you might be gay” book, with a healthy dose of that young adult staple “forging your own identity separate from your family for the first time”.

But just because it’s straight-forward and familiar doesn’t make it any less charming.

The story’s “hook” is that the protagonist, 14 year old Alek Khederian is an Armenian-American living in the suburbs of New Jersey. He is saddled with high-expectation parents who have sentenced him to summer school for falling off the honours track in his first year of high school. And to top it off, he has a perfect older brother who is always showing off how committed to Armenian culture he is.

It’s through summer school that Alek meets Ethan, the cute skater boy legendary for starting a food fight. Ethan is the classic older, cooler, more experienced boy, who dares to visit New York City on his own, and knows all the tricks to enjoying the city on a tight budget. Needless to say Alek eventually realises he’s falling for Ethan.

The book covers the key parts of Armenian culture: hating the Turks because of the genocide in World War I which will never, ever be forgotten (Turkey’s failure to apologize or even acknowledge it happened has proven to be a bit of an obstacle to “getting over it”; and the Armenians love of cooking. Apparently Armenians hate eating out, because they always think they could do a better job themselves. There are several parts of the book which might have your mouth-watering at the food descriptions.

If you’re looking for fun, easy read without too much teenage angst and misery to bring down your mood, then this is the perfect book.

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