Rating: 4.5 stars
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Seventeen-year-old Lucas Tate is incredibly shy, awkward, and frequently terrified by social interaction. He is also small with delicate features and is a bit flamboyant, especially when he plays his beloved piano. As a result, he is teased mercilessly by the kids at school and doesn’t have much of a social life.
When Lucas meets the outgoing Trish, he starts to make tiny inroads into interacting with other kids. Trish introduces him to her friend Donovan, who is openly gay, yet still incredibly popular (although not particularly nice). Lucas also meets Alex, one of the straight jocks who is open and accepting of Lucas and befriends him. With these guys Lucas takes his first baby steps into interacting with a boy, but his real crush doesn’t seem to know he exists. And even when Zach makes it clear that he is in fact interested in Lucas, Lucas’ insecurities still cause trouble. He feels so awkward and uncertain and convinced a guy like Zach who is an athlete and gorgeous and incredibly romantic will never want a guy like Lucas. But Lucas needs to learn to have confidence in himself and his relationship if there is any chance that things will work out between them.
I don’t read much Young Adult but I decided to give this one a try after hearing such wonderful things about Parker’s Sock It to Me, Santa. And I really think this story is incredibly well done. Although there is some on page (non-penetrative) sex, the book definitely has a young adult feel as these guys are still just on that cusp between boys and men and Parker really captures that well. They are growing up, pushing against their parents a bit, and exploring a sexual relationship with each other. At the same time, we can see how much they still need (and want) their family’s love and support and guidance, especially Lucas who is really just stepping out on his own for the first time. He is not just inexperienced sexually and romantically, he is almost completely inexperienced socially. His is so terribly shy and most kids are so cruel to him that Lucas pretty much keeps to himself, and as this story starts, we just see him breaking out of his shell a bit. So despite being 17, Lucas still feels quite young. In some ways he seems almost unrealistically naive. He is totally shocked when Donovan mentions porn, for example. But I think in many ways it is part of his limited interaction with other kids, as well as his almost crippling insecurities that keep him from experiencing things other kids his age take in stride.
The setup for this story is rather interesting, as Zach and Lucas have almost no interaction until about halfway through the book. In fact, early on I though his love interest could easily have been one of the other two guys, Donovan or Alex. I actually think this sets up the story well, as there is no way Lucas could have been prepared to jump into a relationship with Zach at the beginning of the book. He needs to get a little experience socially, with tentative relationships and forays into sex, just to get himself at the point that he can handle things with Zach when the time comes. So it felt very realistic and the early part of the story moves along nicely even without the primary relationship at its focus. But it also made things feel a little rushed for me when the guys ultimately get together. Emotionally they seem to be deeply committed very quickly, which felt a bit surprising given how tentative Lucas is about everything. I would have liked to see the pacing maybe not quite 50/50, but perhaps more of the story focused on developing the relationship between the guys.
But oh, when they get together it is so adorable and achingly sweet. They are just so earnest and mushy and all twitterpatted, you just can’t help but love them. Zach is more experienced, both socially and with relationships, but he is so patient and supportive of Lucas. Zach sees that passion and intensity that Lucas has for music and is totally moved by it in ways few other kids are. And although Lucas wonders what Zach sees in him and why he’d want to be together, Zach never falters in his interest in and support for Lucas. And Lucas just adores Zach, who is not only gorgeous and athletic, but also sweet and sensitive and patient. I am not quite sure their behavior is always realistic for 17/18 year old boys, but I still found them an adorable couple and they fill the story with such warmth.
So I really enjoyed this Play Me, I’m Yours. Although I wished we moved into Zach and Lucas’ relationship a bit sooner, I found myself eagerly flipping pages and totally engrossed in their story. This is a very sweet coming of age story with some lovely romance and an endearing main character who is finally finding himself. I really liked it a lot.