School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.
Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It’s a total train wreck!
But train wrecks always make the front page.
I received an eARC of this book from Little Brown Book Group UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
I had a very hard time reading this book, it was almost surreal with the way in which it was written… I mean Jude and his friends were supposed to be in middle school and yet the language that was used consistently throughout the novel would turn sailors’ ears pink had they had a chance to hear them. I had a hard time believing these kids were around 13… and it terrified me because I just couldn’t imagine 13 year old me in any of those situations. Probably because 13 year old me sat around a read books all day and had even less of a social life than I do now. And so the concept of the story seemed all the more scary.
However, Reid’s writing style was great, I was hooked from the very first paragraph, and my level of interest in the story didn’t waver which was surprising due to its heavy subject matter. I would definitely give a huge trigger warning to future readers of this book who are affected by drug abuse, rape, and child/domestic abuse because all three topics feature heavily within its pages, in a very blunt, black-and-white sort of manner.
Jude as a character both made me afraid and saddened me, which was a weird feeling to say the very least. His obsession with Luke… was concerning and sometimes made me feel a little uncomfortable, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been that surprised given everything else that had happened in the novel. I loved the relationship Jude had with Keefer, I’m a sucker for a good sibling relationship and theirs was beautiful so Kudos to Reid for writing this in the novel because it showed a slightly different side of Jude, more vulnerable and much less cynical which was nice to see.
I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t exactly the lightest of reads, nor is it the most happy (I shed buckets of tears reading it, not only at the saddest part but generally throughout out of sheer terror at what was unfolding before my very eyes) but it is an incredibly important book, based on a story that occurred… despite the fact that it shouldn’t have. This book shows the miserable reality faced by some people in the LGBTQ+ community, even in today’s society and gives voice to just one of many of their unhappy stories.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
“Sweetheart,” I said, “train wrecks always make the front page.”