After 16 year old Jarold's parents discover that he is gay, they force him into attending family therapy sessions. As he rebels against his parents by visiting the local gay club, he discovers the guy of his dreams. But things are more complicated than they seem. Jaz is still in high school, and relationship problems are the last of his worries when the school bully is torturing him, and his former best friend has seemingly turned psycho killer. With the help of his friend Alison, Jaz decides he needs to leave home, but things don't go quite to plan.
I found this book while browsing in my local library, and after reading the blurb I had to check it out. It's rare to come across a YA book with a gay protagonist, so this immediately drew me in. Jaz is a sixteen year old boy who, like all teenagers just wants a bit of fun in his life. He suffers from being the target of the school bully, and also has to deal with his homophobic mother and sister. Although Jaz was quite whiny, I found him funny and relatable. I sympathized with him for having to deal with his homophobic mother, as every time he tried to explain himself to her she started yelling at him.
Alison was a brilliant character who stood by Jaz no matter what, even agreeing to run away with him. She was the reliable best friend who Jaz could always count on, and she seemed to be the only person who genuinely cared about Jaz and didn't care about him being gay.
I loved that the book was set in the UK, as the majority of YA books are set in America, so it was a change to read about a teenager in a British high school as opposed to an American one. The lack of quotation marks in the dialogue was slightly annoying and confusing, and there were a few instances where I was confused as to if a character was speaking or if it was Jaz's narration. The story was not linear, and I felt that there was not a good reason for this and just contributed to the confusion. I feel as if I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if it had been linear and had quotation marks. It did however seem more like how a real teenager would speak, and even though some people may find it annoying that Jaz says “like” instead of “said,” I thought it was interesting as it seemed as if Jaz was telling his story directly to the reader rather than setting it out as a novel.
This was overall a great coming of age novel, and although I initially only decided to read it for the gay protagonist, I liked Jaz as a character and also emphasized with his struggle of being bullied and unpopular.
I recommend this book to fans of The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.