Ollie's Aunt Linda isn't doing too great and with two small children, Ollie's parents decide to stay in Collinswood and help while Linda recovers. Despite Ollie putting in a protest. The likelihood of running into Will again is pretty slim to none, it was summer and he's likely moved on with his memories and now someone else's dreamboat. Grumbling aside, Ollie loves his family, his super supportive parents and although he's leaving his life behind in California, his band that's most certainly on the cusp of greatness and his friends, he agrees and enrols at Collinswood High School.
Of all the schools in all the world, Will just happens to be at Collinswood High. Well, it's not that unlikely but it makes getting over him a smidge more difficult. Before Ollie sinks into a post summer sulk, he's swept up by a group of girls all sporting rose gold rose necklaces in some sort of misguided non couples dressing. Turns out Ollie is just what they need to complete their group and suddenly the year isn't looking so bad after all if he can avoid Will everyday for the rest of the year. Or when hell freezes over, whichever comes first.
Will isn't the same guy that Ollie fell in love with. He's the star basketballer, he laughs at homophobic jokes and ignores the fact that he spent an amazing summer with Ollie and unlike Danny Zuko, doesn't tell all his friends about the boy he met at the beach. Most definitely not with a musical number and interpretive dance. Unaware that his new circle of necklace clad friends know Will, Ollie accidentally outs him and in the small North Carolina town where apparently no one is gay, Will has never felt comfortable coming out to his boof head mates.
Throughout the storyline, we're treated to flashbacks of the perfect summer. Playing with the kids on the beach, not quite naked swimming in the middle of the night and all with a dose of kissing someone's face off. Ollie's summer was perfect. You know when you meet that person that's your person? Will could possibly be Ollie's person but the summer is over and with it, Ollie and Will's relationship.
Although Only Mostly Devastated is utterly joyous, it tackles serious issues such as grief and seeing a loved one battling illness, queerphobia and being outed, blended with a beautiful story of summer flings, heartbroken boys and figuring out your place in the world.
I loved Ollie's character. He's wonderfully compassionate although sarcastic and internally, hilariously bitchy. I loved his kindness and sense of who he was and his own self worth. He isn't without his faults but he's just so inherently good. Although we see flashbacks of Will during the summer, within his circle of friends, he comes across as arrogant and willing to laugh at others expenses. Underneath the cocky facade lies a young man who's scared to be outed. Throughout the narrative, we see Ollie incredibly hurt that Will wants their friendship to remain a secret, worried about the reactions of his friends and family. Both boys are justified in their feelings and it was wonderful to see Ollie addressing his error by outing Will, realising how potentially dangerous and damaging his actions were and although he's entitled to feeling hurt, that Will shouldn't feel pressured to label his sexuality until he's ready. If he's ready.
The secondary characters are as diverse as they are wonderful. Lara is exploring her sexuality and identifies as bisexual as does Will. Niamh is a young woman of colour and has aspirations of becoming a plus size model. It also explores casual fat shaming by suggesting Niamh could only be successful as a model by losing weight. Niamh has also been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, only the second time I've encountered the condition in young adult, the other being the incredible It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood.
It was ahhhmaaaaazing. Big, big love for books that explore positive queer experiences for teens, helping reading audiences relate and to feel not so alone. It's about living your life, learning from your mistakes and shaping up because you need a man.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.