Jack Parker is about to ask his dear boyfriend, Dylan, to accept a promise ring while attending their Year Eleven prom. They’ve been dating openly for the past school year, and Jack revels in Dylan’s popularity, as he’d mostly been a pariah after coming out a few years back. Jack’s developed a lot of emotional armor to withstand the bullying, and he’s ready to be absolutely fabulous at the prom–maybe even elected prom king along with Dylan. Unfortunately, Jack learns that Dylan hasn’t been faithful, and is instead interested in dating another boy from their year, leaving Jack furiously devastated.
Nate Harrison is also a Year Eleven, and he’s also got a major announcement to make at prom: he’s gay. And, in love with Tariq, the sweetly quiet gay boy who has charmed him. Nate knows Tariq wants to be out, so he makes his giant declaration–only to learn minutes later that Tariq and Dylan have been secretly dating behind Jack’s back. And, of course, out-and-proud “watch me everyone” Jack Parker was the instigator to reveal all the cheating. Nate and Jack had been the best of friends all through childhood, until they turned 12. Jack was out, and Nate shied away to prevent anyone surmising that he, too, could be gay. Nate’s world feels over, and he wants to hate Jack for shining the light on the treachery. Maybe if he asks really nice Tariq will come back to him?
Yeah, no, that’s not going to happen, because Dylan and Tariq have a new Insta channel that’s documenting their amazing love, and the summer is beginning, and they’re traveling all over, hitting all the hot spots, being out and fabulous together. All Nate has to look forward to is a weird driving vacation around the armpits of England in a borrowed camper van with his family and, inexplicably, Jack.
Jack has this great idea of getting revenge on Dylan by out-fabulousing Dylan and Tariq on social media. He convinces Nate’s parents to let him tag along on their grand trip, and they agree because they adore Jack and they desperately want him to help cheer Nate up. It’s a bit of a hard job, with the capers that develop on this trip. I absolutely shook the bed laughing with this horrorscape of teen angst. Oh, my goodness! Everything that can go wrong seems to do so, in the most endearing way. I loved how their continued proximity allowed Nate to become comfortable enough with his former best mate to confess his deep guilt and self-loathing. Jack is amazing at finding all the brightest sides of everything. He begins this mission running on 98% spite for Dylan, but he recovers quickly, allowing the momentum of the trip to transform his energy. He makes new friends, reconnects with his sweet cousin, and with Nate, of course. Because, as Nate’s prescient younger sister continues to claim, Jack is Nate’s future husband.
This is an adorable, hilarious look into teen life, jam-packed with the woes of social media and the pressure to demonstrate living one’s best life 24/7. The lessons are gentle, and delivered with grace. I highly recommend for fans of young adult romance. Jack and Nate are both awesome, Tariq is decent, and I’d like to leave Dylan tied to a railway someplace. I would LOVE to see a book for Elliot, Jack’s cousin, if that’s even a possibility. I was in rapture with the ending, and loved every step of the journey to get there.