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1481481681 (ISBN13: 9781481481687)
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.
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And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.
The end of our final winter break seems almost like the beginning of a victory lap. We’re seven semesters into our high school career, with one last—token, honestly—semester to go. I want to celebrate like your average guy: with some private time and a few mindless hours down the YouTube rabbit hole. Unfortunately, neither of those things is going to happen.
Because, from across her bed, Autumn is glaring at me, waiting for me to explain myself.
My schedule isn’t complete and classes start up in two days and the good ones fill up fast and This is just so like you, Tanner.
It’s not that she’s wrong. It is just like me. But I can’t help it if she’s the ant and I’m the grasshopper in this relationship. That’s the way it’s always been.
“Everything’s fine,” she repeats, tossing her pencil down. “You should have that printed on a T-shirt.”
Autumn is my rock, my safe place, the best of my best—but when it comes to school, she is unbelievably anal-retentive. I roll onto my back, staring up at her ceiling from her bed. For her birthday sophomore year—right after I moved here and she took me under her wing—I gave her a poster of a kitten diving into a tub of fuzzy balls. To this day, the poster remains sturdily taped there. It’s a super-cute cat, but by junior year I think the innocent sweetness of it had been slowly sullied by its inherent weirdness. So, over the motivational phrase DIVE RIGHT IN, KITTY! I taped four Post-it notes with what I think the creator of the poster might have intended it to say: DON’T BE A PUSSY!
She must agree with the edit because she’s left it up there.
I turn my head to gaze over at her. “Why are you worried? It’s my schedule.”
“I’m not worried,” she says, crunching down on a stack of crackers. “But you know how fast things fill up. I don’t want you to end up with Hoye for O Chem because he gives twice as much homework and that will cut into my social life.”
This is a half-truth. Getting Hoye for chem would cut into her social life—I’m the one with the car; I chauffer her around most of the time—but what Autumn really hates is that I leave things to the last minute and then manage to get what I want anyway. We’re both good students in our own way. We’re both high honor roll, and we both killed our ACTs. But where Autumn with homework is a dog with a bone, I’m more like a cat lying in a sunny window; if the homework is within reach and doing something interesting, I’ll happily charm it.
“Well, your social life is our priority.” I shift my weight, brushing away a trail of cracker crumbs stuck to my forearm. They’ve left a mark there, tiny red indentations in the skin, the same way gravel might. She could stand to spread some of her obsessiveness to room cleaning. “Autumn, my God. You’re a pig. Look at this bed.”
She responds to this by shoving another stack of Ritz in her mouth, crumbling another trail onto her Wonder Woman sheets. Her reddish hair is in a messy pile on her head, and she’s wearing the same Scooby-Doo pajamas she’s had since she was fourteen. They still fit . . . mostly.
“If you ever get Eric in here,” I say, “he’ll be horrified.”
Eric is another one of our friends and one of only a handful of non-Mormon kids in our grade. I guess technically Eric is Mormon, or at least his parents are. They’re what most people would call “Jack Mormon.” They drink (both alcohol and caffeine) but are still reasonably involved in the church. Best of both worlds, he says—although it’s easy to see that the other Latter-day Saints students at Provo High don’t agree. When it comes to social circles, Jack Mormon is the same as not Mormon at all. Like me.
A few dry flecks of cracker fly out when Autumn coughs at this, feigning repulsion. “I don’t want Eric anywhere near my bed.”
And yet here I am, lying on her bed. It’s a testament to how much her mother trusts me that I’m allowed in her room at all. But maybe Mrs. Green senses already that nothing will happen in here between me and Auddy.
We did that once, over winter break our sophomore year. I’d lived in Provo for only five months by that point, but there was an immediate chemistry between us—driven by a lot of classes in common and a comfort from our shared defector status with the Mormon kids at school. Unfortunately, the chemistry dissolved for me when things got physical, and by some miracle we dodged the post-make-out awkward bullet. I am not willing to risk it again.