Title: When Everything Feels Like the Movies
Author: Raziel Reid
When Everything Feels Like the Movies won a Governor General's Literary Award, and it's a finalist for Canada Reads 2015. So my opinion is probably not going to be popular. But I did not like it.
WAIT before you all start to yell at me, let me tell you what I DID like. This book is about Jude, a flamboyantly gay teen. He is confident and funny. He also protects his younger brother from their shitty home life. This is a book about how gay teenagers can be socially isolated and abused, and this is clearly important subject matter. It will hopefully lead to a lot of productive discussions about bullying and discrimination.
Jude deals with the constant discrimination he faces by immersing himself in an imaginary world. He pretends that he's a celebrity dogged by the paparazzi in LA, rather than a lonely teen tormented by bullies and largely ignored by everyone else. And herein lies the problem: Jude's defence is so good, not even the reader gets to see much below the surface. This means that, although I admired some of Jude's qualities, I never REALLY get to know him, feel engaged by him, or like him.
In fact, the only character in this book who I found at all likeable was Jude's younger brother, who has a very small role, and is barely developed as a character. It's hard to enjoy a book on any level when you don't like any of the characters. Other than Jude and his brother, none of the characters in this book appear to have any meaningful relationships or good qualities.
On top of that, the ending was not good, in several ways. If you haven't heard yet what happens, STOP READING - SPOILERS AHEAD.
Is this enough room?
Right, so Jude is shot and dies at the end of the book. But get this - he had a bus ticket to get out of town, and his trip was scheduled for THE VERY NEXT DAY. I like to call this trope "Good Cop One Day Away from Retirement," and it's so overused, it's become cliche.
Second, after Jude is shot in the head, he has an out-of-body experience so that he can narrate the end of the book. EYE ROLL. Doctors are talking about the fact that he is brain dead, but for some reason he can still hear and understand things that are going on around him.
Normally, all this would add up to a "Do Not Buy," but in this case, the subject matter elevates this book to a "You Should Probably Read." If you have kids who are reading this book, you will definitely want to also read it, because there is a lot of content you'll want to talk to them about (sex, drugs, abuse, etc).
Just borrow it from the library.
Full disclosure: I bought this book with my own dollars because a couple of assholes made a petition trying to revoke its award, and that pissed me off. Freedom to read, bitches!