Australian RRP: $17.99
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQIA+ Books, Romance.
Page Count: 352
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Sypnosis from Newsouth Books –
A gloriously upbeat LGBTQI+ novel of love, hope and friendship — showing that although it’s not always rainbows and fireflies, life’s too short to be anyone but yourself…
It started with a kiss…as love stories often do. Jesse Andrews had the arms of a Greek god and he was on the track team. The night of our kiss fell on a Friday.
Then, only a few days later, Fin’s world is turned upside down — and not in a good head-over-heels-in-love way — when Jesse cruelly outs him. An event which ultimately leads to his family leaving town.
But a fresh start isn’t going to change the truth of who Fin is. And it’s not going to stop his sexuality causing everyone all sorts of problems. Everyone, that is, apart from his new best friend Poppy, her girlfriend-in-waiting June, and his latest crush Rye…So, while Fin and Rye are enjoying some seriously intimate moonlit moments together, Fin’s parents decide to pack him off to the local ReSouled ‘therapy camp’.
It’s a nightmare — and there’s no easy way out. Can Fin’s squad hatch a plan outrageous enough to spring him before the ‘conversion’ acolytes force him onto the straight and narrow?
I received a finished copy of Fin & Rye & Fireflies from Newsouth Books Australia in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Sometimes you’ll read a book, or, hopefully, many books that’ll make you think ‘okay, it’s going to be quite hard to put into words how much I appreciate this story.’ These are the types of books that make one just feel compelled to clutch it to one’s chest, often rendering a reader into a state of utter devastation (for any number of reasons) and equally making one feel completely elated and empowered, too.
I’m going to purposely digress off path for a moment, if I may. Thus far, well, at the time of composing this review, I’ve read now 76 books. My most recent 5 star read was the earth shattering Aurora Burning – which I’m certainly not over! I finished that on the 11th July and after that, I found myself reading a lot of pretty fabulous 4 star reads! Yet, I found myself wondering when I’d find my next 5 star reading experience! For me, Fin & Rye & Fireflies is nothing short of a completely heart wrenching, shattering yet equally inspiring triumph of a book!
This beautiful book compelled me to feel so many emotions, well and truly! There were times when I was just consumed with a fiery anger at the injustices that Fin found himself having to be subjected to! Fin, a young teenage boy, who’s essentially outed by his male crush and as a result, his narrow-minded, set-in-his-old way of thinking Father, packs Fin and the family off to another town to flee from the shame and judgement that comes from having a homosexual son! Throughout this book, Fin’s Father often eludes in an intimidating and often borderline threatening towards Fin, warning him to curb his homosexual tendencies (yeah, because it’s totally a sin, isn’t it?!) or Charles will scoot Fin off to a camp that supposedly reforms these people from their sickness.
It’s just completely devastating that any young child, teenager, heck, even adult, should be the recipient of anything other than unconditional love and support from any adult figure in their lives, yet Charles has his feet and mind so readily planted in the old way of thinking, that something’s drastically wrong with Fin for liking guys. Frankly, it hurt a lot to read about!
Fin is honestly the sweetest ray of sunshine (as is Rye, and thankfully the latter has a completely wonderful and altogether quirky Mother who embraces her fabulous son for nothing short of who he is!). Whilst Fin’s Brother is completely accepting of him and not at all hesitant to call out their Father’s garbage thoughts about Fin (cue the cheering, honestly, I was so so appreciative that Elliot is fiercely loyal to his Brother, unafraid to defend Fin against their hurtful parents!).
I also found it quite sad that Fin’s Mother, who often reassures Fin that they love him (which I’ve no doubt that she does, but I just found myself low-key lamenting that she was (in my opinion) slightly intimidated by her husband and wouldn’t defend Fin at all or even appear to acknowledge the damage their subjecting him to by sending him to a camp that is nothing short of wrong, in every aspect! Every family scene where Fin was essentially targeted by his Father in a slightly threatening manner to say that he hopes his son is keeping on the (impending cringing pun) straight and narrow. Like, ahhh, why not just love your son as he is?! Celebrate the fact that he’s found some amazing friends, let alone a guy who loves him so, so much!
Fin’s friends are absolutely brilliant, I love how wonderfully diverse their little circle is, how excited and swept up I felt when they were lobbying for trans and other LGBTQIA rights (such as the freedom for trans students to use gender specific bathrooms (truly, I think it’s low-key bemusing that this is even a problem? Like, a toilet is a toilet is a toilet, no?!) June, the young trans woman and all around fabulous and fierce exuding human, is brilliant. She’s such a loyal friend to Rye-bread (I loved, loved, loved Rye’s nickname! So wonderfully wholesome!) and even if June and the equally loyal and fabulous Poppy (pansexual, all ’round awesome human being) are often fickle and back and forward in their romance, it’s completely clear cut that they are literally perfect for one another!!
Fin & Rye though, oh boy, they gave me all of the feelings! Their romance and chemistry just flowed so naturally, I loved it! Definitely things weren’t ever cruisy for either of them with Fin having to skirt around his parents suspicions and his Father’s confounded fears about his son falling back into old ways and Rye having to accept his seemingly dreamy then boyfriend Eric might actually be bad news as Poppy would often say, yet when Fin & Rye meet, fireflies completely happen and the result is completely fuzzy-enducing with more than the healthy amount of angst added! I couldn’t put this beautiful book down and to say it’s become a fast favourite of the year is hardly an understatement! Honestly, everyone needs to read Fin & Rye & Fireflies, it’s just completely beautiful and there’s so much of its plot and characters that will be staying in my mind for a good while to come! I absolutely cannot wait to see what’s next for Harry Cook!
Check out this video of Harry Cook discussing marriage equality here: https://youtu.be/JsrAcadDlz4