Fin & Rye & Fireflies by Harry Cook

Fin & Rye & Fireflies

by Harry Cook

WINNER OF THE SCOTTISH TEENAGE BOOK PRIZE 2022

Fin Whittle is sixteen and he likes guys. A fact which seems to be complicating his life.

One minute Fin's kissing the godlike Jesse; the next he s been cruelly outed. His family's response? To up sticks in search of a 'fresh start'.

A fresh start won't change the truth of who Fin is. Obviously. But it does introduce him to the best squad in town: kick-ass Poppy, her on-off girlfriend June and the super cute, super irresistible Rye.

Fin soon has a serious crush. And Rye might just feel the same way. But Fin's parents aren't happy. If their son won't change his 'lifestyle', they ll force him onto the straight and narrow . . . by way of 'conversion therapy'. An outrageous plan is needed to face down the haters and to give Fin and Rye (and their fireflies) a chance at the happy-ever-after their story deserves . . .

From moonlit meet-ups to vintage diners, pride parades to a passion for old vinyl, Fin & Rye & Fireflies is a gloriously upbeat tale of being true to yourself no matter what.

'A big-hearted queer romance' - Abdi Nazemian, author of Like a Love Story

'Charming. Sweet. Engaging. Important. Characters you will fall in love with and an author you will as well.' - Greg Howard, author of The Whispers

'All the Love, Simon feelings and then some. As cute and queer as it can get.' - Kai Spellmeier, YA Blogger

Reviewed by Kelly on

5 of 5 stars

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Contains sensitive issues such as homophobia, transphobia and conversion therapy. Please tread carefully friends.

As far as the town of Lochport are concerned, Fin Whittle is a heterosexual son, his parents are conservative members of the community and there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary here. His father certainly didn't evacuate his entire family because his son is gay and this fresh start, terribly disguised as a work promotion, it's most certainly not a bigoted overreaction of the sexuality of your child. Most certainly not. They certainly aren't concerned about the welfare of their son after his sexuality became the hottest gossip in the small conservative and religious community, labelled as perverted with unnatural tenancies. Surely their new home in Lochport will set him straight. Insert fist shaking and extreme eye rolling here.

Fin is lovely and tenderhearted, he identifies as gay and although he's confided in a few close friends, isn't ready to tell the world just yet so when he was cruelly outed by his former crush, his confidence took quite the beating. His parents more concerned with how they're perceived rather than the mental and emotional wellness of their son, as though sexuality is a choice and his father can threaten the gay out of him. Fin's distress is palpable and confronting, especially for queer readers so please tread lightly friends. Fin's father isn't old school, as Fin's brother Elliot would describe him, he's a conservative asshole and a foreboding presence in Fin's life.

Lochport is a seaside town with a small and inclusive community of queer students representing gender, sexuality and straight allies. Poppy identifies as pansexual, she's totally in love with June, her former girlfriend, transgender and chairperson of the Queer Straight Alliance. June is a gentle soul, I loved her sense of justice and wanting to educate others to create an inclusive environment. Poppy is a firecracker, fiercely loyal to her friends, brutally honest and won't hesitate to knock anyone down a few pegs for being a dickhead. Everyone needs a Poppy in their life.

Rye, along with his trusty sidekick British Bulldog Thelma, is the perfect example of why we need more kind and compassionate male characters in young adult. He's wonderfully sensitive and wears his heart on his sleeve. Rye has anxiety and when it all becomes too much, escapes to his secret hideaway at Kettle Lake, chilling and watching the fireflies dance upon the water. At the lake under moonlit skies, Rye and Fin begin falling for one another, the coy smiles and gentle touches are beautiful and I treasured seeing them finding solace with one another.

I was absolutely horrified by Fin's father, his beliefs and straight up homophobia. His mother is slightly more understanding but allows Fin to be treated like shit to appease her husband. I wanted to slap them both into next week. Here you have a wonderful young man, smart, sensitive and compassionate, who just happens to be gay and he's stuck with these horrible shithead parents who send him to conversion therapy to brainwash the gay away. Thank goodness for Elliot, Fin's older brother who has returned home from travelling abroad. He recognised from an early age that Fin may have been gay and wants nothing more than to love, cherish and support his brother, standing up to their father so Fin isn't in this fight alone. I don't know what kind of Christian malarkey this is but I was fuming. Conversion therapy isn't something I know much about but how fucking dare anyone tell someone that falling in love, regardless of gender, is unnatural, that they're unnatural and these charlatan assholes should be imprisoned.

The heaviness surrounding queerphobia, conversion therapy and the issues the queer community face is balanced wonderfully with a hopeful and tender story of friendship, falling in love and the strength and resilience of queer teens. It's beautifully written and an incredible young adult debut from Harry Cook, who will no doubt become a force to be reckoned with. Just outstanding!

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 6 September, 2020: Finished reading
  • 6 September, 2020: Reviewed