Monday, March 28, 2011

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez is the story of four teenagers and their sexual identities. There's Lance, and although he knows he's gay he's never had a boyfriend. Sergio might be Lance's first chance, but he's bisexual and his only real relationship was with a girl and Lance doesn't even believe bisexuality exists. When they meet they each bring along their own female best friend. Allie is Lance's best friend and she's been in the same relationship with a guy for two years, but then she starts having weird feelings for Kimiko, Sergio's friend and a lesbian who can't believe that Allie would ever be interested in a girl like her. All four of them certainly have a lot to figure out if their relationships are ever going to work.

Sanchez has taken on a few interesting issues in Boyfriends with Girlfriends, in particular the fluidity of sexual identity and the negative feelings towards bisexuality many gay individuals have, believing that bisexuals are still have closeted gays. The fact that the characters are all teenagers is important because of the fact that many teens do struggle with sexual identity and I feel as if Sanchez did a good job addressing that. All the characters in the novel felt authentic, as well as three dimensional, from Kimiko's insecurity to Sergio's love of dancing, Sanchez really brought them to life. Boyfriends with Girlfriends alternates in the perspective it is being told from, which helps let the reader into each character's mind but at times I found this was happening too much, even within one paragraph, which occasionally made it feel a bit disjointed and jumpy. 

Dialogue plays a huge role in the novel, and although I am fairly certain it is realistic dialogue there were a few moments when it felt abrupt. Personally, I am more interested in getting to know what is going on inside the character's mind and I found that was lacking at times because so much was going on out-loud and not internally. I think this may have contributed to the fact that some decisions or resolutions felt rushed, because there wasn't quite enough time to let what was happening soak in before a new conversation had begun. I also don't feel the need to know exactly what is going on in every conversation, but overly dialogue-driven stories may just be something I have a slight bias against.

The other issue I had with Boyfriends with Girlfriends is that it got a little too cheesy or heavy-handed at times when it was clear what Sanchez was trying to say but he was doing it so overtly when I think a little subtlety would have helped tell the story more effectively. These are important messages that Sanchez is trying to bring across: that not everyone fits into the perfect "gay" and "straight" boxes and that life is about giving ourselves the opportunity to determine who exactly we are and not letting others define us. Overall, Boyfriends with Girlfriends has authentic main characters and a worthwhile message, there were just occasional flaws in the storytelling which distracted me from them.

Release Date: April 19th, 2011
Pages: 224
: E-galley from Publisher

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