Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
It’s the summer before senior year and 17-year-old Micah Summers wants to find a boyfriend. He’s the “Prince” of Chicago, being the only son of the media-annointed King of Chicago, former hockey star, Jeremy Summers. Micah grew up in a media spotlight, which is why he likes to keep on the down-low with his own pet projects, like his anonymous Insta profile, Instaloves. Here, Micah has cataloged fairytale-esque pencil sketches and vignettes of 99 boys he met in his everyday life who maybe could have been his first date—if only he had the courage to ask. Now, his multitude of fans are clamoring for Boy 100 to be The One. And basically, Micah is ready to actually date someone for a change. He’s 17 and never been kissed—or anything else.
Micah meets the perfect boy on the L train, but doesn’t get his name or number due to a late departure. They had connection though, and this person is clearly an artist, like Micah aspires to be. So, Micah enlists his bestie, Hannah, and her other gay bestie, Elliot, to help him track what meager clues were left behind in the one-of-a-kind vegan leather pumpkin jacket Boy 100 left on the train.
Hannah, though, has bigger plans: meeting with her clandestine boyfriend. So Elliot, the ever-cheerful and overworked barista, accompanies Micah on this epic scavenger hunt for romance. And they find Boy 100—he’s a summer design student at Micah’s #1 dream school, The Art Institute. Grant is fun and friendly, but also fearful of relationships as his heart’s been broken many times. Micah charms him, though, and even reveals his identity on Instaloves in a moment of sheer bliss. However, now he’s being hounded by fans who want more content on Micah and Grant’s fairytale romance.
But, is it a fairytale? At first, they mesh so beautifully, working on Grant’s entry for the design showcase and being supportive art and love partners. Unfortunately, Micah’s creativity wanes, with the increased anxiety over his publicly identified art becoming more highly scrutinized. Added to this, Grant’s overbearing moments, where he’s acting like a clout-chaser using Micah (and his father) to promote the end of summer fashion show. Micah becomes bitter, especially when he sets up a hugely romantic date for Elliot and his busy boyfriend and Grant messes the whole thing up.
During this time, Micah is recognizing the goodness in Elliot, and how badly he wants uber-busy Elliot to remain in his life. It makes Micah confront some rather ugly truths about himself and his fairytale dreams. Sometimes, Micah gets it right, and sometimes he’s way wrong—hurting those he loves to save the fragile feelings of others less worthy.
This is a fast-paced, awesome, young adult romance with a twist. I really wasn’t a huge Micah fan for good parts of the book, because his decision-making was so poor. Then, I had to remember: he’s a 17-year-old boy experiencing his first love ever, and that character will make big, bad mistakes. Micah’s actually really relatable, despite being so wealthy, because he acknowledges his privilege, and accounts for his questionable actions. He’s so emotionally present, I was honestly shaking in the climax, biting back my own sobs as his relationships morphed in both good and bad ways. As a longtime resident of the Chicago area, I also really respected the author’s knowledge of Chicago, without taking too much license regarding setting. (Claiming amnesia regarding the Pizzeria Uno scene, because that’s tourist pizza.) Still, the setting was largely accurate, and fully fleshed enough that I could imagine running the streets with Micah and his gang of lovesick friends. I even giggled when Hannah complained about having to take a train all the way to, gasp, Orland Park. Because that IS a long ride…
I appreciated the incorporation of social media, and the anxieties that it can provoke in youth content creators, as well. Micah suffers for his art, but he also suffers over the perception of his art by strangers. That’s a real phenomenon for folks who count their subscribers in the tens of thousands. The fairytale premise was expertly woven throughout and the payoff with the pumpkin rescue couldn’t have been sweeter.
If you are a fan of YA gay romance, this book should join your TBR pile.