Monday, October 17, 2016

Release Day Review: Guyliner by J. Leigh Bailey

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Title: Guyliner
Author: j. leigh bailey
Release Date: October 17, 2016
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 250

Seventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.
As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.

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*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

Teenager Connor works hard to be the perfect student, baseball player, son, brother, friend, and boyfriend.  Every part of his life is controlled with the end goal of getting a scholarship and going to college.  His father's baseball career ended when he got his girlfriend pregnant in high school, married her and had to work to provide for the large family they had.  He's constantly reminding Connor of how he messed up his own life to motivate Connor to not make his mistakes.  Connor's doing well at maintaining his "Golden Boy" life, until the school gets a new student.  Graham comes to a new school with a promise to himself that he's no longer going to hide who he is.  He's a stand-out soccer goalie, wears guyliner and funny saying shirts and stands out in the rural school he's now in.  Connor is immediately attracted to Graham, but being gay would never be allowed so he continues to try and live his seemingly perfect life.  Connor's only able to maintain this perfection for so long, before his attraction to Graham is undeniable.  Then everything comes to a head when Connor has to face the decision of figuring out what he wants to do with his life.

I felt there was a great lesson for adults reading this and how they push their children to be more, and maybe they should make sure that the message they're trying to send is what is being received.  Connor's dad's pushing made it seem like Connor was a mistake and had ruined their lives.  I was happy when Connor finally voiced his feelings to his dad and made him see that he was going about his encouragement the wrong way.  Graham's story was heartbreaking but he was lucky to have supportive parents who just appreciated that they still had a son.  I enjoyed this story and thought all the characters were really well written, from the parents to the juvenile delinquents.

This is the first book of J. Leigh Bailey I have read and typically I avoid YA books, but the title of this one caught my attention.  This is definitely a book about teenagers and all the angst and drama that goes into their teen years for some.  It's a true coming of age story of self-discovery that many do not have to figure out until later in life. Even if you're not a fan of YA, you should check this one out!

Rating:  4 stars

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