Straight (2016) by Seth King is an amazing, amazing read. It is the first book in the author’s Straight series.
The plot follows the love story of Henry Morgan and Ty Stanton. The pair meet on a bus and are instantly attracted to each other. But this is super confusing for Henry as up until this point, he had thought he couldn’t get attracted to another man. Though confused, he decides to go for it and see where his feelings for Ty will take him.
The chemistry between Henry and Ty is amazing first of all. Their conversations flow. The dialogue is very everyday, natural and modern. They seem to care about each other a lot and that really drives the plot forward very well because you care what will happen to them and you want them to end up together. I love both of them though I do probably like Ty more. In fairness, I think if Ty wasn’t fictional I would probably be in love with him! He is very socially aware and not afraid to say what he thinks and I absolutely loved that. I very much liked that a character like that was celebrated for a change as opposed to the negative perspective which is often attributed to characters who have Ty’s personality. I love Henry because Henry understands that there is nothing wrong with someone being like that and his ego is not so fragile that he tries to control and change him. The two male leads also have good humour in their dialogue too.
This book speaks about a lot of very important issues like prejudice/ignorance against LGBTQAI+ people, people of color and women. Labels is a huge topic in the book too and I love how it was written that Henry’s labels for his sexuality and romantic orientation were not a big deal, that he had feelings for Ty and he had feelings for other people in the past were what really mattered because at the end of the day that is what matters in my eyes. I also was really happy to see a non-binary character in this book in Miss Famous because there is not a lot of non-binary people in fiction a lot.
I thought Henry’s journey trying to find who he was was written very authentically. I experienced a similar figuring out who I was myself in my twenties and while my story was different in quite a few ways like everyone’s is, there was an awful lot of things I could identify with here. I think it was very important to show that Henry was confused, not horrified, because while some people are horrified and that’s their journey there is a lot of people who are just confused that they have these feelings they never had before or weren’t aware they had before and that confusion is often mistaken for being horrified and not wanting to have the feelings so that was really great to see in the book.
The book speaks about the horrific attack in Pulse Nightclub and how violence like that can make people scared to be themselves openly for the safety of those they love and their own safety. I thought it was a very beautiful tribute at the end of the book to the people who lost their lives on that tragic night in 2016.
A very engrossing read from start to finish. Excellent writing. A must-read.
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