Christina Lauren are leaders in the romance genre – they’ve had some of the biggest hits of recent years (The Unhoneymooners, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, and In a Holidaze) and, if you’ve read my blog before, you know how much I love their books. Up until now, I had only ever read their adult romance stand alones, but after seeing all of the incredible hype, I finally decided to pick up Autoboyography, their third YA book.
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.
As a fan of Christina Lauren’s adult standalone romance books, this was a huge change of pace for me. While it was still a romance, it was more of a coming of age story. Even though Tanner came from an accepting family, they still pressured him to stay closeted due to the fact they lived in a highly religious area. This put strain on his relationship with his best friend and his parents and his tolerance to Mormons around him. I really loved how the book explored the relationship between Mormonism and ex-Mormons – Tanner’s mother had left the church at a young age and clearly had a hatred towards the church in general which had an influence on Tanner’s view of the church.
Autoboyography was heartbreaking – both Tanner and Sebastian had their own journeys being members of the LGBTQ+ community while living in a heavily Mormon populated area. For Tanner – this meant his family was accepting of him, but they also pressured him to stay in the closet to everyone outside of his family. For Sebastian, who grew up devoutly Mormon, this meant having to stay very closeted for fear of losing his entire family or worse. The forbidden romance that developed between the two was adorable and stressful – one bad move and Sebastian risked losing his family and his connections to his church. Sebastian also struggled with his internalized homophobia, which was incredibly sad to see.
Autoboyography is a heart warming and heartbreaking story of first love and self acceptance. Your heart will break for both Tanner and Sebastian and for the impossible situation they found themselves in. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you enjoyed this book, I would highly recommend checking out Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. 5/5