Let it be known: I enjoy reading fiction in the LGBT genre. Really, I enjoy any good romance no matter what the sex of the couple is. I’m the kind of the person that really believes in the whole love-is-love thing. To be honest, I have often found some LGBT novels I’ve read more interesting than the average heterosexual high school romance (and there are certainly plenty of those out there, which just might be the problem).
Anyway, I’m babbling. Let it also be known: Michael Barakiva’s One Man Guy was a delightful novel about, among other things, friendship, Armenian culture and first love. While I did find the novel had a curious amount of both mature and immature (or themes of naivety might be a better way to phrase it) to the point that I was often unsure exactly what the target audience was, I really enjoyed reading this novel. The slight fracture in the balance of themes/audience awareness, the slight predictability and the slight unbelievability or over-characterisation of some characters, particularly Elliot, are the only flaws I can think of.
I liked Alek a lot. He’s an extremely likeable character, and also very witty. The banter between him and his family, especially his parents who are strict and proud Armenians, is hilarious and had me laughing out loud a number of times. This novel is very smart in that way. And it was great because throughout the book Alek talks about (and makes fun of) Armenian culture, which is something I knew next to nothing about. Educational and witty, always pluses.
The romantic part of the story is hard to put down, other than it does seem to happen all a bit fast. But, you know, that’s a common thread in romances about teenagers and I didn’t really mind. Even though I did feel that Elliot’s characterisation was a bit forced in the beginning, particularly in the way his dialogue was written, I still liked him a lot and thought his growing friendship with Alev was adorable. So there’s lots to look forwards to in that regard. Alek’s best friend Becky is also a welcome element to the novel, even if she does come across a little strongly.
All in all, Barakiva has created a sweet novel about culture, identity, love and family and I think it’s definitely worth a read if you’re looking to spend some time adventuring around New York City and experiencing for a short while the Armenian culture. Get on board the train 🙂 (which is a slight reference to the novel itself).