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Autobiography by Christina Lauren is not normally a book I would pick up. But I was sent this absolutely gorgeous hardcover, and I try to read the books that are going on my shelf. I realize now that I never even read the blurb, just fell for the cover. I couldn’t fit it in my reading schedule, but I had a credit on audible so I grabbed it there, not even knowing that it was YA. But being in a bit of a slump, I was looking for something different, and Autobiography totally fit the bill and lived up to the gorgeous cover.
“I’m just a bisexual half-Jewish kid who’s falling in love with an LDS guy. The path for me isn’t as clear.”
I love Tanner and his family so much. They moved from California to Provo, Utah when Tanner was 15. Tanner is bisexual and half Jewish, and Provo is a predominantly Mormon (LDS) town. His mom is an ex-Mormon and understands how it all works, and both of his parents are very accepting of Tanner.
“I forget not everyone lives in a household where a parent sleeps in a MY QUEER KID RULES nightgown.”
But they still encourage him to keep his sexuality a secret because in that town, they know he would have problems. He couldn’t even share it with his best friend, Autumn. When Tanner takes a writing seminar his senior year, they are expected to write a novel, and the teacher brought in his most prominent student from the previous year to help out, Sebastian Brother. Sebastian’s book was already published, and he is now a student at a Mormon University. He is following his expected path as a son of a Mormon bishop, and going on his mission as soon as he returns from his book tour. Sebastian loves his religion and is devoted to the church.
When Tanner sees Sebastian in the class, his reaction is all-consuming and immediate. He has no idea if Sebastian is straight or gay, but there is a spark, an immediate connection.
“Kissing boys feels good. Kissing girls feels good. But something tells me kissing Sebastian would be like a sparkler falling in the middle of a field of dry grass.”
Sebastian loves his church. But being gay is not yet accepted. You are allowed to have feelings for the same sex, but you are never allowed to act on it.
"But we’ve both been raised to care greatly what our family thinks about us— their esteem is everything. On top of that, Sebastian has the looming judgment of the Church, telling him wherever he looks that the God he loves thinks he’s a pretty foul human being. It’s impossible to know how to undo the damage they’re doing to him."
I really loved how the authors really researched the town and the religion and presented both the good and bad. They never vilified the church and often pointed out the good. I loved that they weren’t afraid to tackle a tough subject and show both sides.
“Sometimes I wonder whether it’s God or the church that feels the strongest about these things.”
“My opinion?” I say carefully. “A God worthy of your eternal love wouldn’t judge you for who you love while you’re here.”
It’s so sad that Sebastian really has to choose between two things he loves, his church and his sexuality. But while this is an extreme example, it happens to young gay kids every day, having to choose between their family, their faith and their sexuality.
"He’s gay; he didn’t die. Nobody is wounded. I know Sebastian’s parents are good people, but holy hell, they just inadvertently made their own son feel like there’s something about him that needs to be fixed. So much for acceptance. So much for welcoming."
•I have major cover love.
•A completely unique story that I recommend to everyone 15 and up.
•How the authors never demonized the church.
•The research and accuracy (I read comments from people who are from there).
•There was a lot of light and funny scenes, as well as hugely emotional ones.
•The huge differences between how each boy was accepted.
•Autumn, Tanner's best friend.
•I learned a little about the Latter Day Saints.
•Tanner’s family. His parents were completely accepting and amazing about it, and were still good, strict parents.
•The book within a book.
•That it didn't just have a perfect, happy ending though it is a HFN.
•The narration changed from first to third person during the book. In the audible version, there is an interview with the authors and narrator at the end and they explain it, and it makes perfect sense. But for me, while reading it, I was wondering if I had gone crazy and it was 3rd person all along, which really took me out of the story.
Narrated by two different men, I loved Tanner’s narrator. Sebastian’s not as much, and it confused me a bit when he came in as 3rd person. The interview at the end make the audiobook even more worth it.
The Down & Dirty:
Autoboygraphy is a must-read novel for high school and beyond. It was a beautiful story of young love, discovery, religion, family, commitments, expectations, acceptance, secrets, heartbreak, friendship, laughter and more. It was a well researched, well crafted novel that addressed the closed mindedness of religion without vilifying it. It was unique, educational and unputdownable. I am hoping it gets picked up in high schools and starts being required reading. Whether you are a YA fan or not, I think Autoboyography is so unique and socially relevant that anyone can pick it up and love it. It was a hugely refreshing change from all of the erotic romance I have been reading lately, and kept me riveted the entire time.
Rating: 4.5-5 stars, 4.5 narration (No heat rating)
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Autoboyography again? Why?
Yes! I would love to listen to the story again because it was entertaining, funny and beautiful. The character's struggles were tangible.
Who was your favorite character and why?
It's hard to choose as the main characters, Tanner, Sebastian and Autumn were all so great. This is because they felt real, they all their own personalities distinct from one another.
What about Deacon Lee and Kyle Mason ’s performance did you like?
I loved the performance because they were just ON POINT.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I cried two times. Mostly because some of it was so touching to me, but it also released some negative emotions for me concerning coming out and my own family.
Any additional comments?
I loved that this book was different. Tanner was out to his supportive family but was told to keep himself a secret from the rest of the town, even his best friend. I loved that this character was unapologetically bisexual and insisted on his label and explained his feeling for both girls and boys. While it wasn't entirely how I experience bisexuality, it was still super important to read and I needed this book as a bisexual teen to know that it was okay to be bisexual.
I'm not very religious but this book helped me to be empathetic to Sebastian's struggles in the Mormon community. His struggles were so tangible to me and Tanner's insight's into Sebastian's mind provided deeper meaning to me.
The other characters in the book all played a role and Autumn was a great secondary character if not a main character. She provided a lot of fun to the novel.
I would read this again and considering buying a physical copy.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Great story but the secret ingredient is the wonderful Deacon Lee empathetically guiding us through