* * * 1/2
Funny and heartfelt, One Man Guy brings to mind the raucous family humor and gentle romance of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as told with David Sedaris–style wit
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.
The synopsis provided is a bit misleading. This book is about so much more than coming out. This ended up being a story about a young teenager’s desire for freedom and the things he does and does not do to earn it.
Since Alek is attending summer school, he will not be allowed to join his family on their annual summer vacation. When he suggests that he be allowed to stay home with out the sitter his parents had planned on hiring, his parents decide that this is a wonderful opportunity for him to have some freedom.
Alek takes the opportunity and makes the most of it. Making decisions that will both challenge his parents trust but will also help him forge an identity separate from the one his rather controlling parents have tried to create for him.
Alek is a wonderfully intelligent and sarcastic character. He embraces his Armenian heritage while at the same time openly showing his derision at some of his family’s more unattractive traits. But even with all his outward confidence he’s just a typical insecure teenager that is trying to find himself while at the same time find a way to let the world know who he is. Although a rather shallow character, Ethan does play a significant role in Alek’s journey. He is Alek’s gateway to the city that symbolized the metaphorical freedom that Alek desires.
But the real gem in this book is Alek’s snarky, movie loving, roller skating best friend, Becky. She is wonderfully energetic and my only complaint is that there wasn’t more of her. A character like that just begs for her own story. In my opinion, of course.
I don’t agree with the blurb when it compares One Man Guy to the writing of David Sedaris. But I will agree that if you enjoyed the overwhelming cultural family humor of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, then you will probably enjoy Alek’s story.
One Man Guy will release on May 27, 2014. You can pre-order your copy here.
Thank you to Netgalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this title.