A sparkling queer YA romance set in Brisbane, Henry Hamlet’s Heart follows one guy and his sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking journey to love.
Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of year twelve and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but where Len is mysterious, Henry is clumsy; where Len is a heart-throb, Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked.
That is, until Henry falls. Hard. For the last person, he imagined.
From an exciting debut author comes this passionate story of growing up, letting go, and learning how to love.
Half love story, half identity quest, Henry Hamlet’s Heart is a beautifully rendered YA contemporary story of friendship and love, with all of its frustrations, clumsy pining, exhalations, disappointments, and mistakes. I thought this was such an interesting take on the friends-to-lovers trope in which Henry, after being dared to kiss his best friend Len, is suddenly overwhelmed by confusing feelings of wanting and longing for Len. This leads to a fascinating dynamic between the two friends as they try to figure out their feelings, navigate this new sexual attraction between them and figure out what it all means for their friendship. I thought that the story really encapsulated the teenage soul: the self-awareness, the confusion, and the longing. It nicely illustrated how tumultuous first love and raging teenage hormones can be. Additionally, it’s also a love letter to anyone who has felt uncomfortable in their own skin and is unsure of who they are or where they belong.
Additionally, there were lovely relationship dynamics between Henry and his family, as well as Henry and his friends. And while this is a tender and honest exploration of identity and sexuality, it’s also a reminder that love—whether romantic or familial—should be open, free, and without judgment or shame. I loved how loving, and supportive Henry’s family is, and the excitement surrounding the wedding between Henry’s grandmother and her girlfriend Daisy warmed my heart. And readers who like a little messy YA romance will definitely get that in spades — Henry and Len’s interactions are funny, awkward, and sometimes exactly as confrontational as they need to be, leading to a wonderful heart-tugger of a story.
Though at first, it appears as though this novel is simply a fluffy, lighthearted contemporary, there are several serious themes that run throughout the book: friendship, first love, heartbreak, self-discovery, self-acceptance, horrible parenting, and the importance of family. I also enjoyed the low-key themes of art that were at the core of the story.
All in all, I adored this quirky story that contained all of my favorite things: friends-to-loves, mutual pining, witty banter, a supportive family, and wonderful side characters. Recommended!
A huge thank you to Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book.