This month, my Goodread’s book club featured book of the month was a delightful story entitled One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva and I found it to be not only a refreshing tale of young romance, but so much more.
The blurb is as follows:
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything “these Americans” could come up with? 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 freshmen 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. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. 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. Michael Barakiva’s One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself–like you never have before.
Thinking on how I would classify this beautiful story, I’d probably say it was along the lines of a young adult gay romanic comedy, for there are more than one scenes that made me laugh out loud. Each page of this novel made me want more and beckoned me to keep reading. I was in fact surprised at how quickly I tore through this book, anxiously awaiting to see how the tender new relationship between Alec and Ethan would develop.
Speaking of develop, the author gives us extremely well-developed main characters and by the end of the novel, I felt as though I were saying goodbye to old friends. These vivid, well-drawn characters come to life on the pages of this book and stay with you well after the book is finished. The supporting cast of colorful characters are also memorable and entertaining: Becky – Alek’s rollerblading, old-movie obsessed, say-it-the-way-it-is BFF is a welcome addition to the story, as was Alek’s fussy, nitpicking mother and his older brother Nik, the “dutiful son” who embarks on voyage of self-discovery himself.
I love a slow romance (rather than a “love and first sight, marry me now kind of romance) and One Man Guy didn’t disappoint. It was a delight to watch Alec’s journey of self-discovery, especially the witty manner in which he managed to overcome the roadblocks to his and Ethan’s relationship and I was relieved to see that the author kept the heavy angst to a bare minimum. I tend not to be a fan of angsty novels. It was also fun to see the orderly, by-the-book world of Alec turned upside down by this enigmatic new boy who came into his life.
Now that is not to say that this novel is simply a sweet little romance. While it is that, it is also more. It’s a study of two cultures coming together and the clashes that can sometimes result of that coming together. It’s about the hurdles of family drama, of embracing your heritage and accepting who you are while maintaining your connection to your roots. Moreover, it’s about the need to understand that sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules – just as long as you know when it’s NOT okay to break them.
While the book is geared toward young adults (high school age) I feel it’s a book that all ages can enjoy and I find this romantic and humorous coming of age tale to be a remarkable addition to the YA/LGBT genre. It’s a charming, captivating and entertaining tale with likable and memorable characters, with just the right amount of romance peppered throughout. What more could you ask of book?
You can check out One Man Guy HERE