Reading The Rainbow is an original regular feature at Musings From Neville’s Navel. I’m a queer bookworm who loves to geek out about books and LGBTQ+ topics, so why not talk about both subjects at once?! Basically, I review books with queer characters and/or themes, discuss the pros and cons of each, and tell you which stories are worth your time!
Author: Sarah Tregay
Genre: YA, romance, contemporary
Length: 354 pages
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Date of publication: 2014
Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college – that’s all set. Not prom – he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: He’s fallen for his best friend.
As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn’t sure if that’s what he wants – because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?
Previous Reading The Rainbow posts may be found here.
I may not love this book as much as I did the first time I read it, but Fan Art still has its merits and rereading it was a pleasant – though perhaps not outstanding – way to pass the time this morning.
I read Fan Art this past September, hence the need for a rereading session before I could review it as part of RTR. I had to work today and, for whatever reason, my brother’s shift starts an hour earlier than mine but since we go to work together, I often bring along a book (or the Sunday paper) to read while I’m waiting. So, today I brought Fan Art and speed-read it in the early morning quiet and realized that while it is mostly good, I do have a few issues with this novel.
Let’s begin with some positive thoughts! Yay!
I LOVED the sheer cuteness of this story. I’m really picky about romance, and most of my favorite fictional couples are F/F, because that’s what I relate to the most. There are exceptions, to be sure, but M/M and F/M love stories generally don’t elicit a ton of fangirling from me. F/F couples? I will roll around on the floor in fangirlish glee any time the fictional couple in question do anything – even just holding hands or gazing into each other’s eyes. KJDSHGKDSHJGKDFHG.
I cannot truthfully say that Jamie and Mason are my new favorite fictional couple – because yes, they do eventually become An Item – but I WAS ACTUALLY OVERCOME BY THE CUTENESS. This is such a lighthearted, “fluffy” read.
Oh! Here’s another thing I loved… the focus on writing and drawing and other artsy things! Jamie works on his school’s literary magazine, and Fan Art is filled with excerpts of poetry that students have submitted for publication – and, on one memorable occasion, a short comic drawn in manga style.
I LOVED THIS, OK?! This is my thing. I really appreciated all the stuff about stories, creativity, artsy inspiration, et cetera. I loved that the novel didn’t focus ONLY on art or ONLY on writing, but on BOTH of them! I’ve read some great novels on What It Means To Be A Writer (Fangirl, The School Story) and What It Means To Be An Artist (Malice, Havoc) but I’m pretty sure that Fan Art is the first novel I’ve read that talks about both interests. Which is good, because in my experience those passions often overlap – most of my friends write and create some form of art.
(I do my best to write stories and draw stick figures. And I dabble in photography. I finally did some photography the other day; you should be proud of me. Almost done with the A B See Photo Challenge!)
I appreciated the diversity in this novel – Mason is Latino! I mean, I wish Jamie had been more diverse TOO, but this was a good start.
And finally, I loved Eden! She’s Jamie’s friend/art class partner, and she is an adorable tiny talented lesbian. Everything she said was so cute! And funny! And I may have developed a slight crush on her. I did have a few issues with her friendship with Jamie, but overall I LOOOOOOOVED reading about a friendship between two queer kids! There aren’t enough of them in fiction, and I have soooo many thoughts about this that I’m going to write an entire post about it sometime later this month!
OK. So. I’ve talked about what I liked… and what I liked made up most of the novel. But there were a few things that I was not so fond of!
First of all, what’s up with the generic setting? I know I’ve talked about that a lot lately, but… it’s important to me! Like, I’m glad that Jamie was on the school magazine’s staff and talked a lot about creativity, but I’m. Tired. Of. Reading. About. Generic. American. High. Schools. (Maybe because I’m homeschooled and formal, institutional schooling doesn’t play a huge role in my life? Who knows. But it’s not really my thing.) I liked how the book takes place in Idaho – a very conservative state – because I haven’t read many books set there, or any LGBTQ+ books, but the school setting? I’ve seen it in a thousand other LGBTQ+ YA novels.
My second – and bigger – complaint is Jamie’s treatment of his friends. Specifically Eden. He spends a LOT of time whining about how weird and emotional and even gross girls are. What the heck, dude?! Like, I totally understand that other people can be gross at times, but there were parts of the novel where he was walking through the cafeteria and he’d see a bunch of girls sitting at a lunch table, talking amongst themselves, and declare it “gross.”
I didn’t understand that. And then sometimes he’d give Eden (or whoever) the silent treatment when she REALLY needed to talk to him about something! And he knew that she needed to ask him something! Then he’d throw a mini temper tantrum because “girls are so weird and emotional and easily upset” or whatever.
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. What is wrong with you? If you treat people like crap, they will react accordingly! It’s not fair to mess with people like that, then throw a fit when they call you out on your rudeness. They’re only responding in kind so if you can’t handle that, shut up and stop causing problems in the first place.
The only high point of Jamie’s little “girls are weird” tirade came when he observed that “their bras must be filled with words.” OMG YES JAMIE. MY BRA IS DEFINITELY FILLED WITH WORDS THAT IS PRECISELY WHY I BECAME AN AUTHOR.
But I digress.
I would recommend this book to…
- Queer guys
- Fans of contemporary YA fiction
- Writers, artists, awesome peoples who work on their school’s newspaper
- Maybe avid readers of David Levithan’s books? (see below)
At the beginning of this review, I talked about not loving Fan Art quite as much the second time around. Why is that so? Well, I checked my bookish records on Goodreads, and… huh. I read David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy just DAYS before this book. (You can read my RTR review of it here, if you’re interested.)
And I think that colored my opinion of Fan Art. I have… issues with Levithan’s writing. It’s just not my cup of tea! Reading Boy Meets Boy was an underwhelming experience with me, and I think I was just so delighted to find a similar yet more engaging story that I came away with a slightly skewed opinion of Fan Art.
Look, Fan Art is a pretty good novel – but truthfully, my little rereading session dredged up a few flaws. Because of this, I’m dropping half a star from my original, right-after-finishing rating. If you’re looking for a sweet YA romance, cute gay guys, or some awesome talk about creativity, read Fan Art. But be aware that it has some issues, and that the main character has some really weird ideas about the proper way to treat people. I’m glad I read Fan Art, but on the other hand… I found myself mentally revising certain sections throughout the novel.
Enjoyable, but not MY NEW FAVE STORY.