I heard great things about this author and even before meeting him at UK GLBTQ Meet in Bristol I wanted to read this book. The blurb reminded me a lot of my own coming-out experience and I was curious how it was handled in the book. So when I had the opportunity to read this book for an honest review through Wilde City Press, I jumped at it.
Kieran, 18, comes out to himself then his family by going to a youth group. There he meets Kev, a cross dressing gay man with awful taste in boyfriends and Jo, a grade A drama student, at college and in his real life. Kieran navigates his way through the maze that is being a gay man in the late nineties, with help from his two new best friends, and his two old best friends; Hannah, just coming out too and trying to work out if Steps are Abba for the nineties; Grace a one woman charity shop bargain hunter with encyclopedic pop knowledge.
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Publication Date: June 15th, 2014
Page Count: 198 Pages
Cover: The cover of ‘Best Friends Perfect’ has a kind of nostalgia that works perfectly for the book. The book is like a road trip into another time with wonderful characters and a unique style. The cover lets readers know that this gay fiction story about friendship, self-discovery and love is special ❤
Title: The title is phrased in a way that made me take notice, however for a while I was unable to remember it when I wanted to talk about and recommend it.
Story: At first I think it is important to clarify that this is not an M/M Romance story but a Gay Fiction story. While the protagonist and some of his friends are gay in different stages of self-acceptance and experience, this book is not about sex or the romance between two men. It is about friendship, growing up in the 90’s, being in and out of love and finding oneself.
The style of this book is rather unique and very different from other books I have reviewed. More similar to the books I read in University in its literary style.
It is written in the way the main protagonist talks, immersing the readers in his world. He has a very sympathetic voice and charms himself into the reader’s heart. There is a lot of subtle humor in the book that comes from the unique interaction between the characters and the main protagonists analysis of the events unfolding in front of his eyes.
One of my very favorite thing about the book was the way the way Kieran interacts differently with his different friends. The blurb already introduces the reader to the four friends that play the most important part in his live. Some he meets as he finally embraces his true self, some of them he met before coming out to himself. They all have a special place in his heart and are very different from each other – in turn Kieran is different with each of them. They have different histories with him and these friendships and interactions feel really authentic. They are the heart of the story and I was glad the author spend time to show the readers how Kieran met met his best female friends and befriended them, between telling the current story.
But it is not just a story about friendship, even though for me the heart of the story lies with the characters the author lovingly tells us about. It is also a time capsule. I was born in 1990 and when I grew up the world was a bit different than it is described in this book, but it transported me into the late 90’s and made me feel like I was part of that time and place.
Most importantly for me, I never read a book before I could identify with as much as this one. Even though it plays in a different time and the main protagonist is very different from me in many ways, I felt understood and represented in an authentic way. My own coming-out experience was very similar – telling my best female friend, her pushing me to try a gay youth group, having to lie to my parents, because I wasn’t ready to tell them yet, even as I slowly told my friends, my father being quiet and accepting, my mom trying to actively understand and support after I finally told them – the story didn’t feel contrived or unnatural. The characters have so much detail and love and almost jump out from the pages and you really want to include them in your circle of friends.
Not that they are perfect, mind you – I especially liked the faults, making them even more realistic. The way you don’t really appreciate every move of every character – but you can forgive most trespasses, because they seem human. I sometimes felt a character was a really bad person or influence only to realize I might have judged too harshly when other actions showed they were too three-dimensional to be easily labeled.
Generally, this book was just a completely unexpected breath of fresh air and while it took me a bit to get into the author’s very different style, for me it was completely worth it. After getting used to it, I couldn’t put the book down until it was finished and I am already looking forward to the two ‘sequels’. Actually, it is one big story that will be released in three books, but book one ended on a natural cliffhanger and the first chapter of the second book that was included at the end promises a lot of great storytelling to come.
You might not often stray from the M/M genre (as most of you are avid readers of that genre, if I am correct), but this fantastic gay fiction story is so fantastic that I can highly recommend it to anyone. Just know that it is not really about sex or romance, though the scenes of that nature are very nicely handled – telling what happens with humor and honesty without ever being very explicit or simply fading to black.
I have set out to find pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and I think I have found a treasure in this book ❤