Title: Love and Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford
Two-sentence summary: Sam Weyward has purposefully never fallen in love due to a family curse that proclaims anyone he loves before his seventeenth birthday will die. But with only a few weeks left, will he make it through one last summer crush without falling dangerously head-over-heels?
Portrayal of LGBTQ issues: This book! Features an unrequited crush! Between a gay cis man and a straight trans man! Can you tell how excited I am for this?? Even though it’s not quite romance, it’s still important representation. I’m still waiting for the day the YA romance between a cis and trans guy will come out like my teenage self always wanted but baby steps. Love & Other Curses also discusses drag culture and the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation (i.e. being transgender vs gay).
What I loved: This is something I mentioned earlier, but I appreciated the trans representation in this book! AFAB guys especially don’t get much attention in gay romance books. I can think of a lot of YA fiction I’ve read where the trans guy expresses unrequited love but never one where he (or any other trans character, for that matter) is on the receiving end of it. It might not seem like much and maybe I’m just over-analyzing things, but this felt like a big step towards normalizing attraction between cis and trans characters.
And while Sam experiments with crossdressing and dives deep into the drag scene, he does so while remaining respectful of trans characters and noting a difference between the two– all simple but important things that really drive the novel’s nuance in portraying queer culture.
The writing style of Love & Other Curses also felt natural and conversational, like reading someone’s journal entry recollecting a summer crush that they’re still reeling from. Plus, the heavy musical themes almost give this book a built-in soundtrack, which was both fun and gave it a strong sense of presence.
Quote: “I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy in my school who can replace a faulty kick-down switch and also create the perfect smoky eye.”
Recommended: Out of all the new YA books releasing next year, should you read Love & Other Curses? Well, let me ask you the following questions:
- Do you like your queer romance novels with unexpected twists and unrequited love and/or sudden death?
- Are you excited about the aesthetic of family curses, drag nights at local LGBTQ bars, and mischievous magic?
- Do you regularly say the phrase, “I wish YA authors were writing trans characters with more complexity”?
If the answer to any or all of the above is a resounding “yes,” this might just be one of your most anticipated YA books for 2019!
Note: I was provided an ARC in exchange for a fair review.