Published by Candlewick Press on September 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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It looks like this: Pink, mostly. Puffs of orange just below. The fiercest yellow way ahead—far, far ahead. Red slashed all across. All of it fading to blue, getting deeper and deeper as you go out.
A new state, a new city, a new high school. And Mike’s father has already found a church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Mike’s dad also wants him to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, and there’s something uneasy behind his demands. Everything changes when Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and a simple “hey” turns into games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.
It Looks Like This is a heartbreaking story about identity and the painful experience of being a disappointment to your parents because of who you are. It’s a fantastic but emotional LGTBQ+ story and it definitely hit me hard.
This novel is about Mike, who is 14 or 15 years old, and just discovering his sexuality and that he may be attracted to his classmate, Sean. The two enter into a secret relationship but both come from deeply religious families. Neither of their parents would approve of them being gay and they have to go to great lengths to hiding who they really are, not only at home but also at school where the bullies are ready to expose them at every turn. That’s probably all you need to know going into the book because it’ll be a much more emotional ride if you just go with the story. I found it to be extremely hard-hitting and I was ugly crying and actually sobbing without warning. I deeply connected with the themes of the book and the feeling of being a disappointment to your parents. While I’ve never really been in a situation where my parents were disappointed with me because of my identity or my lifestyle, it’s always been one of my biggest fears to be a disappointment to others or to myself. This novel captured that feeling exceedingly well and the story felt very real to me.
I loved Mike as the main character of the book. However, it didn’t click for me that Mike was only 14 or 15 and for a good portion of the book, I felt like he seemed a bit juvenile. When I finally figured out he was much younger than I thought he was, it all made sense and I appreciated him and his story even more. I really liked how Mike handled himself in the book, in the face of his oppressive parents and his bullies at school. Mike was really easy to connect with and I loved reading from his perspective. I also thought the side characters were really realistic too. There wasn’t a point in the book where I couldn’t relate with the story.
My only criticism of the books is that I didn’t really like the writing style. I found it to be a bit too simplistic and I would’ve liked a bit more description here and there and for the writing to be more sophisticated. However, I got used to the writing pretty quickly and appreciated it a little bit more once I’d realised that Mike was younger than I thought he actually was.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into It Looks Like This but it blew me away with its emotional plot and realistic characters. If you’re looking for a really great LGBTQ+ story, I would recommend checking this one out because it will tug at your heartstrings.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for providing a review copy of the book.