Rating: 4.75 stars
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151 Days is the fifth and final installment in the Tales from Foster High series. Kyle and Brad are the couple we’ve been following throughout this series. Brad’s the football player with the heart of gold, and Kyle’s his smart, determined boyfriend. In the last book, everything came to a head. Tensions that had been building bubbled over and Kelly, a closeted, angry kid that went to high school with Kyle and Brad, committed suicide. As is to be expected, when 151 Days picks up, it’s in the aftermath of this suicide and everyone is feeling it in different ways.
Kyle’s more determined then ever to make his mark, and this includes starting a gay-straight alliance, among other things. Brad is struggling with how he’ll fit in on the baseball team, if he’s allowed on the team at all. Kelly’s mom is obviously suffering tremendously, and many members of the community are figuring out how they feel after this terrible tragedy, some shifting their views for the better and others becoming even more adamantly bigoted.
Brad and Kyle are at a pretty good place in their relationship, but they’re also still in high school, and the pressures they’re feeling not only because they’re gay and they’re trying to make a difference, but also just because they’re young and still trying to find themselves means that things aren’t going to be all smooth sailing with these two. John Goode never lets us off the hook when it comes to a plot. He’s one of my favorite authors when it comes to a message — showing not only the bad but the good the world has to offer. However, this message never comes without a price, and this book is no different than the rest in that regard.
Goode has a unique writing style that may be off-putting to some. It is almost written like a screenplay, so things seem a little bit more amped up, more polished and perfect than one would normally find in a high school, for instance, which on the one hand, leads to some great writing that is a delight to read but, on the other hand, can sometimes feel a little over-the-top. Overall, though, he’s a fantastically entertaining writer, who is so much fun to read, even amidst the often heavy subject matter. Take, for instance, Kyle’s inner monologue after discovering the joys of sex and realizing it was suddenly taking over his every thought:
Was this how straight guys felt? I literally already felt dumber as I walked around wishing I had lower hygiene standards so I could consider grabbing Brad and throwing him in one of the broom closets for a quickie. Did I just really think that? Broom closets and quickies? Oh god, I was like a pair of sunglasses away from calling other guys “brah”. I needed help.
Goode’s trademark humor is what keeps this book from getting too heavy-handed amidst all the drama. This is a YA book, so even though Kyle and Brad are discovering the joys of sex, it is all kept behind closed doors. There is no description of sex acts and everything is kept very clean, in case you have a YA reader. I think Goode’s books should be mandatory reading for young adults because he tackles really difficult subject matter in an approachable way.
The one major problem with this book was the shifting POVs. I didn’t mind so much when it shifted between Brad and Kyle, but there were several characters POVs involved, and it was especially distracting when we were in the mind of an adult, since this a YA book, and seeing scenes from an adult perspective was rather problematic for me. It also involved a lot of retelling of scenes from one POV and then another, which would be one of the reasons this book is so long and, I think, would’ve been better off without it.
Overall all, though, a great read from John Goode, as always, and highly recommended for both YA and adult readers alike. I’ll miss our Foster High family, but have a feeling we’ll be seeing some of these characters in future books.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.