My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Andy Squared” was my first read from Jennifer Lavoie and I found it to be a well-written story about a high school senior who not only comes to terms with his sexuality, but also stands tall in the face of adversity against his growing relationship with another boy, including opposition from his own twin. Andrew (Andy) and his sister Andrea have been inseparable since they were kids, but as the two have grown through school, and months before their graduation, Andrew realizes that what his sister wants from life is very different from the image he has for his own aims. Further, in terms of his relationships, he can’t seem to keep a girlfriend in his life without feeling uncomfortable. When a new boy (Ryder) arrives at Andy’s school, Andrew can’t stay away from the boy who likes riding horses and has his heart pounding. The two boys become friends, which in time becomes something more, but in a small town where rampant homophobia exists, they have to contend with keeping their relationship secret – at least until it’s revealed by the one person Andrew’s known his whole life.
This book has a very interesting premise and it had my attention from point one in the book. It took very little time to get to know both Andys, and I found them with very distinct personalities and desires. Andrea had moments where she was overbearing and crude, but that was a distinct part of her characterization in spurts, and one can tell Andrew really cares for her. I don’t think I ever came to fully like her or connect with her viewpoint, but I understood her roles in the story where they came across. I really liked the progressive development of Andy’s relationship with Ryder – in the scenes where they’re riding and caring for the horses, as well as when their relationship becomes more than just a strong friendship. I’ll admit that the emotional conflict didn’t pop off the page as much as I thought it would have, given the contentions in the town and ultimately Andrew’s internal struggles to understand his sentiments and sexuality. I definitely appreciated the supportive cast of characters once Andrew and Ryder were “out” and Andrew’s growth in confidence and knocking down the contentions around them made him a much stronger, solid character. I do wish that the intimacy of events to the character perspectives were a little more to the forefront, but it wasn’t something that detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. Towards the end, I found the resolution to the conflict buildup came a little too quickly, but was still worth following for what the story aimed for in the coming to terms of sentiments between the characters.
I would certainly recommend this for those who like YA realistic fiction/contemporary stories regarding GLBT characters. It has a few bumps in the progression, but still proves an enjoyable story and worth the time to read.
Overall score: 3/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Bold Strokes Books.