Social Intercourse - Greg Howard

Beck: The Golden Girls-loving, out-and-proud choir nerd growing up in the “ass-crack of the Bible belt.”

Jax: The Golden Boy, star quarterback with a slick veneer facing uncomfortable truths about himself and his past.

When Beck’s emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn’t happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he’s ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown’s first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.


This irreverent novel overflows with teenage hormones and drag-queen-worthy sass, all the while exploring topics of homophobia and religious discrimination, sexual fluidity, and toxic masculinity. Told through alternating viewpoints, Howard's text gives readers a refreshing take on the sometimes cliche story of enemies becoming lovers, but with a gay hookup app.

I really enjoyed the book overall, the dialogue was snappy and the chemistry of the two main characters felt real (complete with all the angsty ups and downs.) Jax and Beck are both simultaneously empathetic and annoying as all get-out! Like so many of the guys in Andrew Smith's work, Jax and Beck are run almost entirely on hormones, their erections seemingly guiding them from event to event. 

Perhaps my biggest issue with the novel overall was the--to me, at least--entirely excessive amount of misogyny and sexism from the main characters. Beck repeatedly refers to the woman his dad is dating as "Big Titties" or via other references to her breasts, reducing her to an object rather than a human being. I understand his distress in this situation, but the repetition of it throughout the novel is unfortunate.

In addition, while the relationship between the boys is rather sweet, even when it is a complete mess, their attempts to manipulate the relationships their parents are engaging in borders on entirely inappropriate (at one point Beck allows the woman his father is dating to believe that his father hits him.) They are both forgiven much to easily, in my mind.

These two issues aside, the primary narrative is enjoyable, and the campiness of the dialogue and internal monologues is pretty darn funny. Howard's text is not all surface-level, though; much of the content is actually quite deep, particularly where religious discrimination and homophobia are concerned, along with the hypocrisy of some religious leaders.

Recommended

(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out June 2018)

Comments

  1. Alas. I had to put the book down, not because of the explicit sex, but because of the explicit revulsion towards women's bodies. :(

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