Everybody likes Alex. He’s outgoing and flirty and people gravitate toward him. Alex has friends and dates, but his smiles do hide a deep pain that never seems to get easier. Shiloh is the opposite of Alex. He’s quiet and anxious and doesn’t make friends easily. He has always felt different and some days his anxiety and depression make everything seem out of reach.
When Alex and Shiloh meet, they connect on a special level and build a tentative friendship. Alex wants everything with Shiloh, but Shiloh has never dated and he’s unsure and hesitant about everything. Their friendship soon grows into an emotional relationship and Alex and Shiloh spend the summer discovering each other and themselves while trying to heal. Alone, they don’t feel perfect, but together they fit perfectly.
Alex and Shiloh together make for a warm and sweet love story with some deeper themes built in. Alex is vibrant and talkative and out and while his friends are supportive, his parents aren’t as accepting. He has trauma surrounding his older brother and while the exact details are given slowly, it’s clear from the beginning what happened and that pain enables Alex to recognize Shiloh’s pain. Shiloh has anxiety and depression and truly feels like he is different from everyone. Shiloh hasn’t dated and while he experiences attraction, he hasn’t experienced desire and he just thinks something is wrong with him.
The guys are perfect for each other and their story is one of self-discovery. Alex is immediately accepting of where Shiloh is in his life and takes tentative steps to make him feel more secure and more comfortable and be there as Shiloh processes feeling attraction, as well as desire for Alex. Shiloh is also working through his mental health issues and he has support of his therapist and his father, but being with Alex changes his life.
The guys have both just graduated high school and they are looking ahead at what the next steps in their lives will be for themselves and then together. Alex’s job at the movie theater also adds another layer to him for as energetic and chatty as he is, he’s motivated and focused and is respected at work as well.
Alex has a difficult relationship with his parents and while they are part of his journey, they were a little two dimensional for me. Shiloh’s father is more visible and more supportive, but there is a romantic relationship for him added in and not all of that fit together as well for me.
The story is highly character driven and the heart of it is Alex and Shiloh as they support each other and fall for each other. Perfectly Us is a coming of age and coming out story that touches on real life issues without ever feeling too weighted down and is worthy of your time.
Cover: I don’t often gravitate toward illustrated covers, but in keeping with the theme of the title, this one is perfect. It captures both Alex and Shiloh well and definitely adds something to the book before you even get to the first page.