Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
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.
So, over the last year or so, it seems like everybody in the book blogging world has been talking about Autoboyography. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a negative review of it, and even though I have a documented problem with hyped books, I decided to dive right in. It was available for free on Riveted during Pride Month, but I planned out my library holds and ARCs very poorly and didn’t get around to it until July.
And… I liked it. I actually liked it a lot. The middle 80% or so is amazing. That said, I was a little disappointed by what I felt was a slow start and sort of haphazard ending.
Let me start with the characters and how much I loved them.
Our protagonist is Tanner. He’s eighteen years old, a senior in high school, and he’s just signed up for the infamous “Seminar” in which he’s required to write an entire book in four months. I don’t know that I could write an entire book if you gave me a year or three, so it’s pretty impressive that all these high school kids are doing it. Tanner is bisexual and his parents are super cool with it but won’t let him come out at school. I’m going to talk more about this later. I loved Tanner. He was such a disaster, but I would have totally been friends with him in high school. The thing that I loved most about Tanner was how sincere he was. He didn’t try to act a certain way to appease people, he didn’t play off his emotions as less than what they were. He just existed.
Our love interest is Sebastian. Sebastian is a super religious nineteen-year-old who has just published a fantasy novel. He’s nice, polite, helpful, a splotchy blusher, and totally swoonworthy. His father is the bishop and his home life is the polar opposite of Tanner’s. His parents are definitely not cool with homosexuality and he’s never even entertained the idea that he might not be straight. Tanner falls instantly in love with him and I normally hate instalove, but I totally get it here. I couldn’t fault Tanner one bit for his feelings.
Other important characters:
- Tanner’s parents: a Jewish physician and a former Mormon programmer who support Tanner so much that they buy things like rainbow flags and aprons that say “I love my queer kid.”
- Autumn: Tanner’s best friend who’s just a really well-written teenage girl, but boy, does she make a big decision that I am not okay with. (I’ll talk about this more later, too, under a spoiler tag.)
- Fujita: The teacher/advisor for the Seminar who doesn’t actually seem to do that much teaching or advising, but who is pretty cool.
Basically, the whole middle of this book made me swoon. If you were to look at my Kindle notes, you would just see “I am swooning” and “S W O O N I N G” and “I love him, I’m swooning” over and over and over again. I fully believed the connection between Tanner and Sebastian and I was rooting for them from the moment they first locked eyes.
- It really bothered me that Tanner’s supposedly progressive parents were so opposed to him (a) dating a Mormon boy, and (b) coming out at school. They actually go so far as to forbid him from coming out, as if something like that is actually their decision? It’s one little thing that ate at my mind the whole time I was reading.
- I get that Autumn’s in love with Tanner. I get why she’s in love with him. What I don’t get is (a) why she felt it was okay to take advantage of him when he was in a really bad place emotionally, (b) how she could possibly live with herself, and (c) why I’ve seen so many reviews actually blaming Tanner for what happened. Tanner did nothing wrong, and if the genders were reversed, I’m pretty sure there would be outrage. Tanner went to Autumn’s house for a shoulder to cry on, not for sex.
- I didn’t love the ending. It was cute, sure, but after spending 90% of the book in Tanner’s head (or in his book or whatever) the Sebastian POV felt weird. The epilogue was also kind of weird because I’m really supposed to believe that Sebastian has finally come to his senses about being with Tanner? After ending things with him twice?? Sure, he just happens to find Tanner in LA and let him know that he wants them to be together? Excuse me if I don’t believe it.
Anyway, regardless of how I felt about those spoilers, I really loved this book. I read it over the course of 24 hours and had a huge smile on my face for most of it. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a cute M/M romance about two teenagers who are clearly destined to fall in love.
Have you read Autoboyography? Are you a fan of Christina Lauren?
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