RELEASED: October 18, 2018
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster UK
GENRE: YA Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
GOODREADS RATING: 4.15
TRIGGERS: homophobia, unchallenged biphobia
Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.
Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .
No easy answers.
At the start of the year, I read Dear Martin by Nic Stone and rated it 4,5 cupcakes so you can say I was quite excited to hear about her new novel. Not to mention there’d be queer characters. I was sold, needed it, requested it and.. by some amazing miracle actually got my hands on an eARC?! I was so read to dive in, stat. Then I actually finished it, was torn and.. the more time passed, the more upset I got with this book so.. are you ready for this? Because this isn’t going to be pretty..
As in Dear Martin, diversity is definitely a huge theme in this book. Where racism is the focus of her previous work, this one is more centered around the queer community – even though I have to at least mention the biracial and black characters in Odd One Out. However, the main theme is definitely questioning yourself, your sexual identity and finding ways to feel comfortable with yourself, your feelings and your values.
Three main characters, three different POV’s leads to me having three people to talk about. The first part of the novel is written from Courtney’s / Coop’s POV. I won’t talk about him just yet since my opinion on him doesn’t really belong in this section.
Side note: I for real hate when people apologize for crying. Like what the hell is there to be sorry about?
The second POV we switch to is Rae, the new girl. I have to say I probably liked her POV best, simply because she felt so.. genuine. Her voice is very unique compared to others I read before. She has a thing with creating her own crosswords and it shows. She uses a lot of words I didn’t know before – and probably won’t remember either – but it definitely added to her voice a lot.
Apart from that, I think the reason I liked her POV best is because she’s trying to figure everything out. Identifying as straight and suddenly having these weird feelings for a girl simply isn’t easy. Sure, she doesn’t make the best decisions but can we really blame her? We all made – or make – stupid decisions in our teenage years and I understood why she made them. Sometimes you’re just not ready to own up to yourself and admit where your head and heart are at. I thought that was shown beautifully in Rae’s POV. I adore books where characters are questioning their queerness so that was a definite plus.
Did you not hear her say no labels fit? If she doesn’t wanna use one, she doesn’t have to.
The third POV is, of course, written in Jupiter’s / Jupe’s voice. I’m still not quite sure about this one. I was torn over it and I hoped it would lessen eventually but.. I’m still torn? In one way, I totally get some of June’s thoughts and views regarding her sexuality and label. A lot of queer people find themselves questioning everything at some point, some still question themselves once in a while. Struggling with our identity? Definitely something we’re good at – at least I know I’m a pro at it. It’s hard coming to terms with a different label than the one you’ve already claimed for yourself, especially if you’re afraid of how your peers will react. So on that account, I could see where Jupe was coming from.
But that doesn’t take away the hurt I felt when she, at some point, pretty much disregarded bisexuality as a genuine label. Being bisexual myself, it was hard to overlook and not feel offended by her total lack of acceptance. Throughout the book, she labels herself as a lesbian accepting of any members in the LGBTQIA+-community but the moment it comes down to herself? Nope! Seems like the only labels suddenly in existence are “straight” and “lesbian” and that’s wrong. Hurtful.
Not to mention how she had this whole thing where she questioned if being bisexual means you can or can’t be attracted to members of the trans community. Like.. Do I even need to go into this further?
Back to the first POV of the story – Coop’s. From the get-go, it’s very obvious he’s a typical teenager with raging hormones since the story pretty much starts with him remarking on his best friend’s looks. That, immediately, is where I got itchy. If someone’s your best friend, you.. just.. don’t.. Even if you have the hugest crush on them. Then especially! Feels to me like he should’ve been way past the physical and more focused on the person she is than how she looks. On top of that: he’s very aware of her lesbian identity which, to me, comes across as him not respecting her at all.
I have one last character to.. complain about. A lesbian side character in this story literally saying how she will “not mess with bisexual girls” because plenty of them would leave you for dudes. Like? Really? I honestly felt awful reading that. People leave one another for someone else often; gender has nothing to do with that. To just.. call out bisexual girls in this manner felt absolutely wrong. She wasn’t even corrected. It wasn’t further talked about by the author either! If that would’ve been the case, I could have been okay but now? Nope. I felt attacked and hated it.
Apart from the characters, there are also some other things I want to remark on. First one being the use of asterisks to portray actions. [Yes, like “**eyes bulge out of head**” and “**cue loaded pause where..**”] Then we have Coop who tells things to Rae he didn’t ever tell to Jupe. I don’t agree with that at all. How can you tell some huge secret to a person you just met when you can’t even tell it to your best friend, who you’ve known for years? And all of a sudden, Coop and Rae are besties too! It did not make sense in any way. [And I’m not even going to mention how the whole novel would’ve been solved in a couple of chapters if only the characters actually communicated…]
I was torn over this book the moment I finished it. You don’t even want to know how long it took me to write this review. Over a week, that’s for sure. I simply wasn’t satisfied since it had to show how torn I was and am about it – I can only hope I succeeded…
If you haven’t made up your mind about whether or not to read this novel yet, maybe you’ll want to check out Destiny’s review. She is, like I am, bisexual and has somewhat the same remarks and some different remarks / views on this novel. [Definitely worth reading since she mentions some things I don’t, but I wanted to stick to my own review without adding things because I read them in someone else’s.]
Do you know of any other books where there’s questioning rep present?
How do you feel about yourself? Have you struggled with your sexual identity?
Was it always obvious what label to put on yourself? Have you changed labels?