On the surface, Romeo has it all: success on the basketball court, a group of good friends, the companionship of the beautiful Rosie.
Deep down, he knows something is wrong: All he feels for Rosie is friendship, and all he feels for his friends’ intolerance is guilt. Everything changes when he meets the openly gay Julian at a party and finds himself sharing a kiss with him. In spite of their obvious attraction, Romeo now feels less sure of himself than ever.
With Rosie’s support, Romeo begins exploring his sexuality — and ends up running into Julian again. Realizing how little he knows about other sexual orientations and gender identities, Romeo begins to see the world in a whole new light, and he and Julian begin to fall in love. But his homophobic friends and family can’t accept him as gay. After a violent confrontation with one of his friends, Romeo becomes determined to prove that his love for Julian is real and right.
Genre: YA LGBT
Title: Romeo For Real
Series: Lorimer Real Love
Author: Markus Harwood-Jones
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company
So first off, get it out of your head that this is a Romeo and Juliet retelling. The only things present are their names and the somewhat familiarity of loving someone you think you can’t be with.
Book-wise, this is like a 2.5 rating because I personally feel like you can’t have all of that negativity without adding some depth and positivity to the characters getting bashed. Like, I’d seriously need more than just happy LGBT members cheering on Rome for what he’s discovering with himself. It’s good for him, totally, but when you take everything into account, it wasn’t enough. Then there’s the way it was written. Rome sounds checked out when the story’s being told; you’re given some conversations, but a lot of other interactions are shortened via narration, and I wouldn’t say it was lazy, but more like it just didn’t match the personal feel that Rome emitted when it came to intense moments.
So… I was going to rate this book two stars because Romeo didn’t really feel at all present through most of the story. The homophobia didn’t bother me (don’t take that out of context — of course bullying is horrible) but the lack of good things to combat all that nastiness didn’t sit well with me. If Romeo’s surrounded by all this hatred and ignorant thinking, I’d have thought that the book would get just as much, if not more, of all the good things that come with being part of the LGBT community. Like Rosie, or Guyna, or Julian’s friends and family. It just didn’t seem like this was balanced well, which then effected the way I felt about the characters.
Rome was pretty much a doormat the first half of the book. I think that if his thoughts and feelings had been “vocalized” in the writing a lot more, I wouldn’t have had a problem with his silence. I can totally understand Rome’s reluctance to challenging the opinions of his loved ones. These are people he’s relied on his whole life, who saw him through really troubled times. I didn’t fault him at all for not wanting to get into fights with them, and sometimes it’s just easier to not start what you know will just result in headaches. It wasn’t his lack of speaking up that bothered me, so much as his ‘head in the cloud’ moments. He just felt a little disconnected.
And yet despite the slight irritant, I still liked the thought of what this author was doing with Rome and Julian’s POV companion books. Rome really stood on his own when he finally snapped. The ending was a little abrupt when, again, you compare it to the previous climax and tone of the last chapter, but they all had their good moments. I don’t think I’d recommend this, but I don’t regret reading it.