Themes: Coming Out, Friendship, Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Released: March 3, 2020
I suspected the moment I read the blurb for this book that it would be right up my street, and I wasn’t disappointed. Only Mostly Devastated put me in mind of an LGBTQ version of Grease—two boys fall in love over the summer before they’re forced to part ways and return homme, neither really expecting to see the other again. Then, when circumstances have them attending the same school, the magic of those sun-filled days is broken. Reality sets in and everything becomes far more complicated.
I really admired Ollie, the novel’s seventeen-year-old hero. When his parents inform him the three of them will be staying on in North Carolina after the summer to take care of his terminally ill aunt, he only puts up a token protest at having to change schools for his senior year, and he’s always so patient with his little niece and nephew. Plus, Ollie has clearly fallen hard for Will and does his best to support the other boy’s reluctance to come out. Yet, when Will hurts him one too many times, Ollie is strong enough to step back and tell him enough is enough.
This debut certainly has all the feels. Ollie’s supreme awkwardness makes for some funny moments, and more than once his narrative had me torn between cringing and laughing out loud. Yet, the story is by no means all light relief. I adored Ollie’s Aunt Linda, and her losing battle with cancer was truly devastating to watch. Then there’s the romance between Ollie and Will, which alternately turned my insides to mush and broke my heart in pieces. All in all, this book took me on a real rollercoaster ride.
I confess, it did take me a while to fully connect with Ollie and Will’s love story, let alone fathom what Ollie sees in Will. This was probably because the novel opens when the summer is already over, so the reader doesn’t have that same emotional investment. Instead, we’re shown how their relationship unfolded through a series of flashbacks. I completely understand why the author chose to do it this way, and by the halfway point I was entirely involved. It just took me a while to get there.
For a sweet romance full of warmth and humour, an immensely likeable hero, and an ending that left me with a smile on my face, Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales gets 9/10 rainbows!
About the Book
Summer love…gone so fast.
Will Tavares is the dream summer fling—he’s fun, affectionate, kind—but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted—and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.
About Sophie Gonzales
Sophie Gonzales writes Young Adult queer rom coms with memorable characters, biting wit and endless heart.
She is the author of The Law of Inertia, which released 2018 with Amberjack Publishing. Her debut YA rom-com, Only Mostly Devastated, was published in 2020 through Wednesday Books / Macmillan.
When she isn’t writing, Sophie can be found ice skating, performing in musical theatre, and practicing the piano. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia where she works as a psychologist. She is represented by Moe Ferrara of Bookends Literary Agency.