Author: Michael Barakiva
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Published: expected May 27 2014
Source: Macmillan for review
Funny and heartfelt, One Man Guy serves up the raucous family humor and gentle romance of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as told with David Sedaris–style wit
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.
You know a book is worth a read when the black sheep (Hi! That part will be played by me this morning) still likes it enough to enthusiastically to rate it a 3.5/5. While seemingly the odd woman out on this book, I willingly proclaim that Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy to be cute, charmingly cheesy, and often fun. I didn't happen to love it as much as some, but Barakiva's debut is a prime of example of why more diverse books should be readily available in YA.
The reason I didn't rate this a four or higher was the characterization for non-MCs. I loved what Barakiva showed us about Alek and Ethan themselves (and their relationship as it evolved), but the side characters felt particularly flimsy to me. For how awesome Alek is when he shows his unflinching character about right and wrong, there's the misstep when Alek's extended family are little more than stereotypes or one-dimensional people.
I also had a few sideeyes for dialogue and teenage interactions shown, but for the most part, Barakiva knows how to portray people with humor and warmth.
That said, One Man Guy is ultimately sweet and believably realistic for the most part. It's a personal and honest look at the love life of a gay teen, and I want more stories in this vein to be published. There is a huge market for it -- as the reaction to OMG has shown. In this case, the hype is warranted. Alek is a great protagonist for many reasons (just as Ethan makes for a great love interest for several reasons) and stories like this deserve to be told. Michael Barakiva's debut is an enjoyable contemporary about two teenagers finding themselves, and love.