Asher’s Out, by Elizabeth Wheeler (The Asher Trilogy, Book 3)
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (July 20, 2015)
Page Count: 288 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Young Adult
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
Summary: For his sixteenth birthday, Asher Price gets a date and a death threat. No one believes he’s in danger, but when Asher’s relationship with Garrett is revealed in his small Florida town, he’s certain he will be destroyed. Still haunted by guilt over his brother’s death and his mom’s breakdown, Asher can’t tell the truth. Instead, his best friend’s practical advice to deny everything wins out. When Asher’s mom announces they’re moving to Chicago, it seems like the perfect out, but how can he leave the only place that holds memories of his dead brother?
Note: I did not read the first two books in the trilogy before reading this one, and was still able to follow the plot with very little confusion. The author does a great job of explaining key plot points from the first two books in a way that’s subtle and relevant to the current plot.
My Thoughts: A very enjoyable novel about a sixteen year old boy in South Florida, who is battling with his religious upbringing and the pressure of being teased at school alongside his realization that he’s gay. The entire novel is told from Asher’s point of view, and Wheeler does a great job of writing from the perspective of a teenage boy who’s confused and scared by the changing world around him.
The title here refers to two different “outs”: Asher’s ability to get out of the homophobic high school and small town that he grew up in, thanks to his mother’s new job in Chicago; and his own struggles to come out of the closet, both to himself and to his friends and family. Most of the novel actually deals with the “ins”, though, as Asher is subjected to mocking and homophobic remarks from the other kids at school, which results in him denying his sexual orientation to everyone who will listen.
I think Asher’s relationship with Garrett was very sweet, and I love that Garrett and his family defied the stereotypes; Garrett is openly gay, with a very supportive family, and they just happen to be incredibly religious. Asher’s friends were equally interesting, especially his friend Kayla, who’s going through her own rough time.
I do think Asher was a bit whiny, and bit too woe-is-me, but I also think that’s probably typical of a teenage boy, especially one who recently lost his younger brother and feels at fault for that. But the big issue with this novel was the end. No spoilers, I promise, but it was disappointing enough that I immediately dropped the entire rating a full point.
Still, 99% of this novel is fantastic, and I expect the first two books in the trilogy are equally so. I do plan to check them out soon, and I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for a YA book about coming out.
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