Only Mostly Devastated

Only Mostly Devastated
Written by Sophie Gonzales
Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
368 Pages
Published March 10th 2020
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★★
When Ollie meets his dream guy, Will, over summer break, he thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After. But once summer’s ended, Will stops texting him back, and Ollie finds himself one prince short of a fairytale ending. To complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country, Will’s school, where Ollie finds that the sweet, affectionate and comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted and to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship. But as Will starts coincidentally popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, Ollie finds his resolve weakening.

The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.

Right?

Right.
Californian local Ollie has just spent the summer of his life in North Carolina, his parents caring for his Aunt Linda as she battles cancer while Ollie could quite possibly be the best babysitter to ever have babysat. With his two young cousins nipping at his heels, Ollie spent the warm summer days on the beach and it was there he met Will, total dreamboat, music novice and basketball god. Over the course of the summer, Ollie and Will fell in love, though neither were brave enough to admit it and swore that when Ollie returned to California, the two smitten boys would certainly, most definitely keep in touch. Now the summer is over and Will is totally ghosting Ollie, ignoring text messages as Ollie becomes increasingly more heartbroken.

Ollie's Aunt Linda isn't doing too great and with two small children, Ollie's parents decide to stay in Collinswood and help while Linda recovers. Despite Ollie putting in a protest. The likelihood of running into Will again is pretty slim to none, it was summer and he's likely moved on with his memories and now someone else's dreamboat. Grumbling aside, Ollie loves his family, his super supportive parents and although he's leaving his life behind in California, his band that's most certainly on the cusp of greatness and his friends, he agrees and enrols at Collinswood High School.

Of all the schools in all the world, Will just happens to be at Collinswood High. Well, it's not that unlikely but it makes getting over him a smidge more difficult. Before Ollie sinks into a post summer sulk, he's swept up by a group of girls all sporting rose gold rose necklaces in some sort of misguided non couples dressing. Turns out Ollie is just what they need to complete their group and suddenly the year isn't looking so bad after all if he can avoid Will everyday for the rest of the year. Or when hell freezes over, whichever comes first.

Will isn't the same guy that Ollie fell in love with. He's the star basketballer, he laughs at homophobic jokes and ignores the fact that he spent an amazing summer with Ollie and unlike Danny Zuko, doesn't tell all his friends about the boy he met at the beach. Most definitely not with a musical number and interpretive dance. Unaware that his new circle of necklace clad friends know Will, Ollie accidentally outs him and in the small North Carolina town where apparently no one is gay, Will has never felt comfortable coming out to his boof head mates.

Throughout the storyline, we're treated to flashbacks of the perfect summer. Playing with the kids on the beach, not quite naked swimming in the middle of the night and all with a dose of kissing someone's face off. Ollie's summer was perfect. You know when you meet that person that's your person? Will could possibly be Ollie's person but the summer is over and with it, Ollie and Will's relationship.

Although Only Mostly Devastated is utterly joyous, it tackles serious issues such as grief and seeing a loved one battling illness, queerphobia and being outed, blended with a beautiful story of summer flings, heartbroken boys and figuring out your place in the world.

I loved Ollie's character. He's wonderfully compassionate although sarcastic and internally, hilariously bitchy. I loved his kindness and sense of who he was and his own self worth. He isn't without his faults but he's just so inherently good. Although we see flashbacks of Will during the summer, within his circle of friends, he comes across as arrogant and willing to laugh at others expenses. Underneath the cocky facade lies a young man who's scared to be outed. Throughout the narrative, we see Ollie incredibly hurt that Will wants their friendship to remain a secret, worried about the reactions of his friends and family. Both boys are justified in their feelings and it was wonderful to see Ollie addressing his error by outing Will, realising how potentially dangerous and damaging his actions were and although he's entitled to feeling hurt, that Will shouldn't feel pressured to label his sexuality until he's ready. If he's ready.

The secondary characters are as diverse as they are wonderful. Lara is exploring her sexuality and identifies as bisexual as does Will. Niamh is a young woman of colour and has aspirations of becoming a plus size model. It also explores casual fat shaming by suggesting Niamh could only be successful as a model by losing weight. Niamh has also been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, only the second time I've encountered the condition in young adult, the other being the incredible It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood. 

It was ahhhmaaaaazing. Big, big love for books that explore positive queer experiences for teens, helping reading audiences relate and to feel not so alone. It's about living your life, learning from your mistakes and shaping up because you need a man.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

9 comments

  1. HAH love the end of your review. I have this one to read ASAP, and I'm so glad that you really enjoyed it. I like that it focuses on some serious topics, but it sounds like it does so well, and it doesn't weigh down the story. It sounds like I'd want to hug both Ollie AND Will. :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. It's such a beautiful narrative Lauren and uplifting. Definitely a feel great read and we certainly need those at the moment.

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  2. Yeah!!! I really enjoyed this book too. Ollie was such a star. The way he stepped up for his family, when they really needed him made me love him even more than I already did. And, yes! The cast was so wonderful, and they were written so well, they didn't even seem like side characters. I always give a extra points to authors, who are able to make me shed both happy and sad tears.

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    1. It was amazing! The brilliance of contemporary young adult so far this year has been incredible, the diversity is beautiful and I absolutely fell in love with this one, especially Ollie. I can't wait to see what the author is working on next!

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  3. Ollie was such an awesome character to read. I love that Will's friends protected him at the start where Ollie could have potentially outed him (and did out him to Juliette, Lara and Niamh).
    I adored the flashbacks so much, they gave me such a warm, happy heart reading them.
    I am so glad you liked this one too, Kelly!

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  4. Ahhh, A friend of mine just told me about this one -- and it sounds so incredibly fun! You've sealed it for me, I need this on my TBR!

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  5. So glad you enjoyed this book! I think I've seen the cover around the blogosphere before, but I was unfamiliar with the premise until reading your review. I love how vivid your review makes this book sound -- I love that each person in the cast of characters is exploring a journey of their own. I might just have to pick this one up soon. Lovely review :)

    claire @ clairefy

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  6. I love the sound of the positive rep in this one. and this "He's wonderfully compassionate although sarcastic and internally, hilariously bitchy" haha I love it when a protag has that inner snark voice. :) This sounds like it could be a little heartbreaking, in ways, with how things go with Ollie and Will, but hopefully things get worked out. It sounds like this is a fabulous read.

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  7. This sounds utterly fantastically just lovely. I liked that wrapped up in the Grease goodness it's tackling some serious issues but doesn't lose the humour either.

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