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We love Christina Lauren at That’s Normal. We’ve been singing their praises as one of our favorite authors since Beautiful Bastard. Hell, since Twilight Fanfiction days. (Legit their twifics were some of my absolute, all-time favorites). They are a co-writing dynamo of some of the best contemporary romances on our Kindles, and we’ve been unabashedly recommending them to you with no reservation for years because they are just that good.
Their newest release is out today, and I have a different sort of recommendation for you. You don’t just want to read Autoboyography. You need to read it.
This book is a love story. We have read lots of those from Christina Lauren, but this one is different. It’s not that it’s Young Adult or male/male romance. It’s a story about being fully yourself in a place that cannot sustain you, but finding the person that can.
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
Tanner falls in love with Sebastian the way that young people do when it finally matters. The attraction is immediate, the feelings never falter, but instead keep surprising him in honest and heartbreaking ways.
This is a story about how religion differs from religious people. How the structures that create the comfortable boundaries that many of us grow up in turn into prisons for anyone who dares to want to live outside of them.
This is a story about writing, and how it feels to bleed out onto the page the words that you often cannot admit to yourself but that must be writ. Tonight, as I write this review, I’m tired. I’m emotional. I’ve had a rough weekend and a terrible day. So I don’t have all the good words that I wish I did for a book that meant a lot to me, as a reader and as a writer.
This is a story about a family. Tanner’s is great. He has a support system and a friendship that not everyone can boast. Certainly not LGBT kids in Utah. I know the kids he goes to school with. I know his best friend, Autumn. I know his infatuation and full on love for Sebastian, the Mormon bishop’s son. In fact, I know Sebastian’s family almost better than anyone else in the story. Christina Lauren has written an honest and nuanced look at religious households, what they care about and why.
I’m not LDS, I’m not bisexual, I’m not a teenage boy, and I’ve never been and never will be Tanner. But his story means a lot to me anyway, and I think it will mean a lot to you as well. I think it will mean a lot to the LGBTQ kids who are struggling, the ones who have no one, and the ones who have family that love them no matter what but still buck up against the manufactured obstacles of culture and institutional morality and religion and expectations and education and everything else that stymies love.
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