Sophie Gonzales is a Melbourne-based author writing in the YA queer space. Her first novel, The Law of Inertia, was a novel covering a myriad of heavy themes. Her new novel, Only Mostly Devasted is something a little different—a contemporary romance about love, high school, the unfairness of life, and, of course, love.
Thank you to the publisher and Pigeonhole for providing this book.
Only Mostly Devastated Review
Is there anything more romantic than a summer fling?
Ollie and Will fall in love. Or, more aptly, plummet into love—it’s fast and seems endless, despite Ollie only being around for the summer. Because once it’s over, he has to return home to San Jose.
When Ollie’s family decide to stay in town to help with his aunt’s struggle through cancer, it seems like a small silver lining. With Will living in a nearby town, maybe there’s hope for their relationship after all.
But heartbreak quickly crushes Ollie when he arrives at his new school to find out that Will is no longer the affectionate, caring, and sweet boy he met at the lake. At school, Will is the king of the basketball court, a class clown, and kind of a jerk.
Ollie’s world is turned firmly upside down. Although he’s quickly given a place among a small group of girls in the school, he doesn’t feel comfortable. His home life revolves around caring for his small niece and nephew while his parents spend time with his ill aunt, and his school life becomes almost unbearable while Will refuses to admit that summer ever happened.
How is a boy supposed to get his happily ever after when the love of his life barely acknowledges him?
A book rarely manages to make me feel all the emotions. It’s even rarer when it’s a YA title. But this one did it! It made me laugh, smile, get a little teary, a little mad, and feel a whole lot heart-warmed.
Sophie Gonzales has managed to encapsulate the high school experience into one sweet story. Even for non-queer folk, the experiences at Collinswood High will feel familiar, both good and bad.
The cast of characters is beautiful in ethnicities, passions, personalities, hopes, and dreams. If you don’t recognise yourself you’ll recognise someone that you know.
Although the main character in this one is a male, there is a fantastic supporting cast of female characters. With the main character, Ollie, firmly surrounded by a small clique of girls (luckily not the Mean Girls type either), Gonzales has managed to show how women can be vastly different and still be amazing and strong in their own way.
The guys in this novel are equally varied. While there are some jerks (both male and female), they are often misguided and just like every other teenager on the planet—wrapped up in hormones.
Although the theme isn’t explicit from the summary (and I won’t state it here, because it plays an important part in the growth of the characters), Sophie Gonzales has done a beautiful job putting it onto paper. It seems particularly important for YA fiction to have a prominent theme or lesson and Only Mostly Devastated demonstrates exactly how it should be done. There is no heavy-handedness here.
As a fellow Australian, I was impressed by Sophie Gonzales’ writing of the life of someone in an American town. It felt natural and reminded me of so many American teen shows I’ve seen. Even more importantly, Only Mostly Devastated is packed full of pop culture references and none of them fly over the head of a non-American. Instead, it’s perfectly-timed, genuine, and relatable.
Overall, this is a novel full of humour, heart, a little bit of hurt, and how love, family, and our friends, help us through. Only Mostly Devastated is a solid entry into the world of YA contemporary romance and is a sign of great things to come from this author.
This feels like a long review, but I have to leave you with the final thought I had when I finished reading.
Only Mostly Devastated is like eating toasted marshmallows. You forget how much you enjoy them until you bite into one. They’re each a little unique but they’re all warm, toasty, and comforting. And, although some bits are a little too toasted, they just make the rest of the marshmallows taste that much sweeter, stickier, gooier, and lovelier, and you know you’ll be back for more.
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Only Mostly Devastated
Ollie and Will fall in love over one amazing summer. Unfortunately, they know it won't last; Ollie is due to go back home, on the other side of the country, at the end of summer. But when Ollie's ...