Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee
Dates Read: April 11 – 14, 2017
Print Length: 272 pages
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: YA Contemporary, LGBT
Last week, I picked up The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Though I was enjoying it, it was moving a little slowly for me, and I knew I just needed a short, quick, cute book to read to get my groove back. I’d recently stumbled across this novel and knew it would be perfect.
“Nonsense. You don’t decide to be gay without a boy, that’s just poor planning.”
Whatever. is S.J. Goslee’s debut novel and follows the story of slacker Mike, who after a drunken escapade starts to question his sexuality. Throw in the normal pressures of teen years: school activities, irresponsible friends, and teenage hormones, and Mike’s in for a bumpy ride.
This book was such a joy to read! I breezed through it.
It reminded me a lot of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, one of my favorite reads from last year, though it was just missing something. It didn’t quite have the heart of Simon.
“He has never been more weirded out in his entire life, and that’s including the time Mike accidentally caught Cam jerking off to German porn.”
Friendship and family play a role that’s equally as important as the romance in here, which is always refreshing to see. The climax of the story focuses just as much on friendship as it does on romance. Mike’s relationship with his younger sister is also featured prominently in the novel, which seems to be sorely lacking in many YA books that I’ve read.
Mike and his friends certainly behave the way modern teenagers do. I find many teenagers in YA, in fantasy especially, are wise beyond their years. They certainly seem far more mature than I was at that age. But Mike and his friends seem like authentic teenagers: throwing ridiculous parties, drinking too much, making dick jokes, jerking off, worrying about first dates. We’ve all been there.
“So far all that Mike has realized in his quest for sober findings is that dicks freak him out—not is own, obviously—and that all the gay porn he found was scary.”
This book is not incredibly deep. It’s not going to give you an existential crisis. It’s not going to make you think. The characters aren’t well-developed, and in such a short book, we don’t really have much time to get to know them. Spoiler alert: When Mike comes out to his friends, they don’t all take it well. But we don’t get a deep understanding as to why. Don’t expect lots of character growth, plot twists, or deep, insightful quotes. This book is not thought provoking, but boy is it fun.
The book felt so incredibly personal and it focused a lot on Mike’s inner feelings and conflict; it was so personal that the third-person narrator made me feel a little detached from Mike because he was always referred to as Mike. The book has such a conversational tone, Mike should have been talking to us. It almost felt like that anyway, so the third-person narration threw me off.
It’s full of funny one-liners, and the kind of drama that reminds you of how you thought everything was the end of the world when you were seventeen. Needless to say, if you don’t think you can sympathize with your seventeen-year-old self, you may want to pass. It’s not a game changer, but if you’re looking for a cute, fluffy YA contemporary with an LBGT twist, you should definitely check this one out.
“There is no normal. We’re all [messed] up.”
tl;dr — Cute and quick read about a gay teen coming to terms with who he is. No real substance but fun if you’re able to sympathize with your old high school self.