Saturday, July 7, 2018

Autoboyography

Rating:
Christina Lauren's Autoboyography (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017) is a book about a book. A high school senior in Provo, Utah has signed up for a course called The Seminar, during which each student has a semester to write a book. Tanner's book is mostly about his crush on, and then his relationship with BYU freshman Sebastian, the local Mormon bishop's son. Sebastian was so successful when he took The Seminar that he got a book deal out of it, and ends up being the teacher's T.A. at his old high school, helping the students (particularly Sebastian) with their own books.

This book was quite a bit more tense then one might imagine—so much so, that I can't describe the experience of reading it as a good one. We ended up in the right place, but getting there was too agonizing. I'm not sure that all this tension was intentional on the part of the authors (Christina Lauren is, indeed, two women:
Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings), but maybe I'm wrong. I can't imagine that the back story was intended to have the impact it did. For example, Tanner's parents were portrayed as extremely supportive of their bi son, even celebrating his identity from the moment they found it out. And yet they voluntarily move (yes, this involved quitting their excellent jobs, not being fired, laid off, or anything else involuntary) from progressive northern California to Provo, Utah, which is 90% Mormon. Nor can it be argued that they didn't know what they were doing: Tanner's mother is former LDS, having been excommunicated precisely because of her support for her lesbian sister. Moreover, upon moving, Tanner's parents not only tell him he can't date a Mormon (once again, the town is 90% Mormon), but also tell him not to come out to anyone at school. This description makes them sound incredibly inconsiderate and small—and that's the way I perceived them—yet the book itself seems to genuinely want us to think they're progressive and cool.

All in all, the book would've been entertaining enough without the constant and (to me, at least) unnecessary crisis, and the ending was sweet. But the unproductive tension keeps it from rolling too high a number. Autoboyography rolls a ⚃.