REVIEW: Autoboyography di Christina Lauren
A simple style and a poignant story
AUTHOR: Christina Lauren
EDITOR: Simon & Schuster
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar, where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester, Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
The last semester of high school is going to start and Tanner has to complete his schedule. Autumn, his best friend, teases him to join The Seminar, not just a writing course, but THE writing course: students have to write a complete book in four months. Tanner decides to take the challenge. He doesn’t know how much four months can change his world.
While at lesson he meets Sebastian, an ex-student and now teacher’s assistant. And his smiles ruins him.
Tanner falls desperately in love with him, although he knows Sebastian is off-limits. Every guy in town is off-limits. Two years before the beninning of this story Tanner’s family moved from California to Provo, Utah, a small town where almost everyone is Mormon. Back home he was out, his family and friends knew about his sexual identity and nobody had problems with it: he was Tanner and he was bisexual. It was almost like saying he had dark hair, just a matter of fact.
On the contrary, here, in Provo, it’s a secret. And of course Sebastian, who is the bishop’s son, is out of reach.
This novel deals with some delicate themes, which are almost inseparable: teen age, sexuality, family and religion.
Teenagers live a very difficult age, a period of self-discovery and choices, a time in which they build relationships and their future. Tanner can’t be the real himself, he has to hide, to lie low; otherwise Mormons would look at him like he is an alien. Because he’s different and doesn’t fit into their perfect world: gay people are not in God’s plan.
Sebastian knows this very well; nevertheless he can’t forget Tanner’s eyes, his look burned his skin and left a permanent sign.
Tanner has a family who really loves him and this love is shown in the entire book: his mother has a sad past history with the Church and she supports her son in every step he takes; his father is clever, nice, funny and has completely accepted his son “tastes”; even his dark unbereable sister would never hurt him.
Sebastian lives a very different situation, since he can’t tell anyone about his doubts. He has never been attracted to girls, but how could he admit it?
For the Seminar Tanner is asked to write a novel and he starts writing about a queer guy in an unfriendly place. Sebastian offers to help him and he finds out the truth. From now on their relationship becomes deeper and deeper and the author (the authors, since Christina Lauren is a pseudonym for two women) explores their fears and hopes.
Tanner is a positive guy, he always sees the glass half full and he believes that they will find a solution somehow. Sebastian is hesistant, he worries about his family’s reaction and about what God would think about him: he’s nice, a very good person and also… sincerely devout.
Tanner starts writing his novel and every single word is about them, about their love, he just can’t stop, his flow of thoughts is unstoppable and even overwhelming. There’s no difference between reality and his book: they’re just the same heartbreaking story (Autoboyography is indeed his book).
Writing becomes a therapy, it helps him express himself and explore his unconscious.
It felt like it was. It felt important. Living in this town is suffocating in so many ways.
But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound.
And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.”
I didn’t know much about the LDS, so this book provided me with a lot of information. I can’t say that I share their opinion, but of course it’s clear that Sebastian’s faith is sincere and that his parents want to protect him, as every family would do. It may be easy to read Autoboyography and immediately take Tanner viewpoint… but I recommend you to be open-minded.
Even though the topics are quite complex, the style is easy, light, often funny; it reminded me of John Green’s. Tanner’s mind is an enjoyable place to visit, so I really invite you all to read this book.
Have you read it? What do you think?