Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing This Is Why They Hate Us by Aaron H. Aceves. This book will be released TOMORROW (August 23, 2022)! So, if it sounds like something you’d be into, pick it up wherever books are sold.
Enrique “Quique” Luna has one goal this summer—get over his crush on Saleem Kanazi by pursuing his other romantic prospects. Never mind that he’s only out to his best friend, Fabiola. Never mind that he has absolutely zero game. And definitely forget the fact that good and kind and, not to mention, beautiful Saleem is leaving L.A. for the summer to meet a girl his parents are trying to set him up with.
Luckily, Quique’s prospects are each intriguing in their own ways. There’s stoner-jock Tyler Montana, who might be just as interested in Fabiola as he is in Quique; straight-laced senior class president, Ziggy Jackson; and Manny Zuniga, who keeps looking at Quique like he’s carne asada fresh off the grill. With all these choices, Quique is sure to forget about Saleem in no time.
But as the summer heats up and his deep-seated fears and anxieties boil over, Quique soon realizes that getting over one guy by getting under a bunch of others may not have been the best laid plan and living his truth can come at a high cost.
***Thank you to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
As a bi man, I always look forward to reading books with bisexual male main characters, and this one was no exception. As soon as I saw this book pop up on NetGalley, I knew I had to read it (and not just because I fell in love with the stunning, and very bi, cover… although it didn’t hurt). I was ecstatic to be approved for the eARC, and luckily, my excitement proved to be warranted because I ADORED this book. I flew through all 400 pages in less than a day and did not want to put it down.
The writing in this book felt very personal, almost like an ongoing set of diary entries, and it had a stream of consciousness to it that I enjoyed. The text was heavy on dialogue and thoughts, but it provided enough description to understand the world of the characters and set the scene well. I found that this combination was really engaging and made the book easy to read at a quick pace. The writing and setting were very contemporary, which included quite a few fun cultural references and some slang that I was thankfully able to decode. This made it feel legitimately like a teenager’s viewpoint, at least to me as a Certified Old Person.
As you may have surmised from this review already, Quique, the main character of the book, was bisexual. I can never get over how reading books with bi men/boys is such a surreal experience because at least some of the thoughts and experiences of the characters seem like they were plucked right out of my head. That was the case here, as well, and it really was such a cathartic experience to see certain aspects of myself represented so well in a story. The author did a wonderful job with representation in general, not just with bisexuality, in this story, but I particularly appreciated that Quique felt real and not like a bi stereotype. This story allowed for the exploration of so many important topics related to growing up bisexual, including coming out, dealing with bigots, and processing the shame and guilt associated with internalized homophobia and biphobia. It also did a great job illustrating both the joys and pains of figuring out how to act on one’s sexuality for the first time and developing an understanding of how one wants to engage with their sexual orientation.
I especially loved that this book went out of its way to show the importance of queer literature and mentors in the lives of queer youth. Quique learns a lot about himself and what he wants from engaging with books and other out queer people who accept him. In this age of book bans and restrictions on what can be said in the classroom, this book illustrates the desperate need to fight back against such proposals by highlighting the life-altering impact it can have on youth. I know I wish more out queer role models and easily accessible literature existed in my community growing up. I believe it would have made the process of accepting myself much easier if I’d had those resources at hand.
In addition to the great bi rep, this book had fantastic mental health rep. If I had to describe Quique, I’d probably say he was a chaotic good disaster bisexual because he was quite the mess. He experienced intense anxiety, depression, and mania throughout the book. The writing set the tone really well, and I could pretty easily tell how he was feeling based on his thoughts and the pace of the dialogue. There were a couple times where his suicidal ideations were explored in quite a bit of detail, and I appreciated the realistic portrayal and the inclusion of how to cope with the ideations in a healthy way. I also really liked how therapy was included in this book, and the interactions between Quique and his therapist felt like a genuine therapy relationship, which I’ve found to be a rare occurrence in much of the media I consume.
I know a lot of this review was focused on some fairly heavy stuff, but I also want to note that this book is hilarious. There were parts where I was laughing out loud so much my partner was concerned for my sanity. lol. Many of the supporting characters bring a great deal of the humor, along with Quique’s own antics. I felt so much joy while reading this book even though it tackles such serious topics. I laughed and cried several times, and I honestly cannot wait to read this book again. It would be the perfect read for Bi Visibility Day next month. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.