To The Boys Who Wear Pink is a character-driven slice-of-life story that examines the lives of several gay friends who have gathered together for a reunion party. As we move through the evening, we get a glimpse of not only the current evening through their eyes but, through flashbacks, we learn about their history and about what links them to each other. Through these various perspectives, it’s slowly revealed that there’s one specific tragic event that ties many of them, together and as the evening unfolds, we learn bit by bit what that event was.
First off, I loved the format of the book. I enjoyed how each chapter follows the thoughts and actions (both current and past) of each of the guys at the party. Some of these vignettes were more powerful and eye-opening than others, but each was riveting in its own right.
At first, I thought it was going to be challenging to keep track of so many characters, but surprisingly, I was easily able to figure out pretty quickly who’s who. Some of the characters I liked, some I adored, and some I didn’t particularly care for, all of which made the novel even more compelling for me. What was fun for me was turning the page to see whose story we were going to be introduced to next and how they fit in with the others.
There are so many themes in this sometimes dark story, including rape, incest, body shaming, drug and alcohol addiction, self-harm, cheating, sex workers, and transphobia. Throughout the evening, we follow the partygoers as they argue, fistfight, get drunk, take drugs, smoke weed, deal drugs, shag and for some of them, share with each other the tragedy of their past. It was interesting to note that almost everyone at the party was going through a particularly rough patch in their lives at the moment. However, I will say that some of their stories were exceptionally inspiring.
What’s fun about this book is how flawed and diverse all the characters were. Each was compelling in their own way and left me wanting to learn more about their lives. I loved the premise of the story — of how they gathered together once again for this one evening to reflect upon not only their current lives, but contemplate who they used to be and how they ended up on their current life path. To say this book is entertaining is to do it a disservice as it is not only entertaining but also intriguing and emotive on so many levels. It’s a hard-hitting story with a hopeful ending.
To The Boy Who Wore Pink was a subtle blow-me-away kind of book. It got its hooks into me so quickly, and I didn’t want to let go at the end; I’m still mulling it over many days later. This volatile and unpredictable novel wrecked me in the best and most unexpected ways. It’s a story full of melancholy and charm, and I’m so happy I picked it up.