An entertaining and heartfelt LGBT romance that takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of love and self-discovery…
Love’s enduring power faces off against societal pressures and personal demons in Martinez’s latest novel. After a summer of teenage drama and newfound love, Justin Ortega and Dominic Mendoza are trying to take things slow while getting to know each other better. At home, Justin’s father has made peace with his sexual orientation, but Garza High is entirely another matter. When a new student, Rogers Gates, enters school and declares his bi-sexual status, the boys realize they also have a chance at coming out. The things get complicated after an unwanted man from Dominic’s past shows up, demanding to be back in his life again. In a masterful use of alternating points of view from the main protagonists, Martinez weaves a tale of love, intrigue, and adolescent drama with ease. He is good at portraying typical teenage predicaments—bullying, societal pressure, parental expectations, friend frustration along with trauma, self-doubt, insecurities, fears, rage, guilt, and regret, keeping the plot at a boil. Between school, family drama, and stolen intimate moments, the book also addresses a number of hot-button issues for many LGBTQ people, especially teenagers, the foremost being the struggle to come to terms with one’s sexuality and coming out. Still, it’s the romance that drives the story, and Justin and Dominic are authentic and full of heart. Their feelings for each other are poignant and true. Martinez does an excellent job of portraying the boys’ anxiety and inner turmoil as they try to find happiness amidst the challenging circumstances. In the process, Dominic learns that there are no straightforward answers when fighting for what’s right—and that you’re your own person, what others think about you is of no consequence. Similarly, Justin realizes that dreams do come true. All you have to do is to believe in yourself and in the power of love. Twists are in plenty and pacing smooth. Though some of the conflicts feel less than high-stake, the author keeps the tension taut, keeping the reader thoroughly invested. The narrative also tackles the complications of childhood trauma while exploring other dynamics, including parental expectations and growing up with an abusive parent. Martinez skillfully balances all these elements, breathing life into this coming-of-age romance. Empathetic, poignant, and raw; a must-read for all YA romance readers.
The Mixtape to the Real Me
Pub date March 24, 2020
Price $12.99 (USD) Paperback, $4.99 Kindle edition