Odd One Out by Nic Stone

I received an Advance Reader Copy — book goes on sale Tuesday, October 9.

 

Let me just put this out there: this is one of the most sexual titles I’ve read in a long, long time.

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Not sexual in that all of the characters are having sex all the time — I can think of books that imply more off-page teen sex than this one does — but rather that these characters are constantly touching, feeling, considering, playing with, and leaning against each others’ bodies.   There’s a lot of sleeping over and a lot of discussion of bodies. A lot.

 

I enjoyed reading about characters like these because I know these people are out there — though I don’t even like hugging family members, so I can’t say I’m one of them.

 

The story follows three voices in three sections.

 

Courtney (“Coop”) is a straight male and his voice has a lot of braggadocio (maybe too much to be authentic and relatable?  I gave it to a teen and am waiting his response). He is hopelessly in love with his neighbor, Jupiter, who isn’t attracted to boys.

 

Meanwhile, Jupiter seems to have a huge crush on the new girl, Rae, while Rae has feelings for both Coop and Jupiter.

 

Oy vey is right.

 

I am ready to give the author a pass for parts of the book that I felt lacking in literary merit (characters seemed a little cardboard to me after their signature styles, the ending didn’t hold together for me) in order to appreciate the big picture here, that this is a book about sexuality, relationships, love, and self.  It features a racially diverse cast and I believe it speaks directly to teens.

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Review on the Go: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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Iranian-American hijabi Shirin starts to have feelings for basketball team captain Ocean in the year after 9/11, where anti-Muslim sentiment is particularly vile.  Comp to other reader-written interracial against-the-odds romances like The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

 

Parts of this book have a crisp writing voice.  Mafi knew her character well and could portray both her confidence and her vulnerabilities well.  Parts of this book don’t get full justice until they are read out loud and savored on the tongue.

 

The pacing of the story seemed a little out of balance to me.  There’s a middle section with not a ton of development and then a lot gets resolved very quickly, with new character insights and sudden changes, in the last 50 pages.

 

This is a title for teen readers, though – I don’t think they’ll take issue with the pacing.