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Like a Love Story It sin New York City, and for three teens, the world is changingReza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother He s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself Reza knows he s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media s images of men dying of AIDSJudy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP Judy has never imagined finding romance until she falls for Reza and they start datingArt is Judy s best friend, their school s only out and proud teen He ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographsAs Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won t break Judy s heart and destroy the most meaningful friendship he s ever known Could YA books with queer characters of color be anyiconic I loved Like a Love Story and I m so happy it exists, alongside books like Benjamin Alire Saenz s Ari and Dante and Kelly Loy Gilbert s Picture Us in the Light andWhat sets this novel apart from other similarly fantastic YA reads is its masterful portrayal of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and the activism of that era The novel follows Reza, a closeted Iranian teen, Art, the out and proud guy Reza falls for, and Judy, Art Could YA books with queer characters of color be anyiconic I loved Like a Love Story and I m so happy it exists, alongside books like Benjamin Alire Saenz s Ari and Dante and Kelly Loy Gilbert s Picture Us in the Light andWhat sets this novel apart from other similarly fantastic YA reads is its masterful portrayal of the 1980s AIDS epidemic and the activism of that era The novel follows Reza, a closeted Iranian teen, Art, the out and proud guy Reza falls for, and Judy, Art s best friend who excels at fashion design Toward the beginning of the book, Reza dates Judy to conceal his sexuality When this arrangement unravels the three must deal with the fallout, of Reza s sexuality, of Art and Judy s friendship, and.Abdi Nazemian tackles so much in Like a Love Story and grounds it all in history so well The fear Reza experiences about contracting AIDS and dying, Art and Judy s uncle Stephen s activism with ACT UP, the characters love for Madonna Nazemian shows how the historical oppression of queer people affects his characters in intimate and powerful ways He honors so many complex, important topics like coming out as a person of color, what happens when a friend betrays you, death and grief, andHe writes in a palatable, straightforward way that still gives space for all the feelings that come with loss and love.The focus on love is what made this book shine the most Until the last 80 or so pages I considered giving it four stars, as Art and Reza s relationship gave me insta love vibes and did not feel as developed or compelling compared to the romances in Aristotle and Dante and Picture Us in the Light But, the last 80 or so pages tied all of the novel s threads together to reveal its beautiful center love of art, love of activism, love of love I got pretty emotional reading Nazemian s author s note and felt so inspired by and happy for him, how he took his experience as a queer youth of color and transformed it into such amazing art I know that we have a lotto fight for to advance equality and justice for the LGBTIA community And, right now, I m giving my queer heart a little break, a little moment, so it can sing a happy song for this book s existence and all the love it entails Wow Wow wow wow This book was incredible. Wow, this book hit very close to home for me.It s 1989 in New York City Reza has just moved with his mother to live with his wealthy new stepfather and stepbrother, and attend his final year of high school He knows he likes boys but all he sees in the media are images of people dying of AIDS, so he knows he has to keep his true self hidden.Judy has always been her own person, an aspiring fashion designer with a bold sense of style She spends all of her spare time with her best friend, Art, an Wow, this book hit very close to home for me.It s 1989 in New York City Reza has just moved with his mother to live with his wealthy new stepfather and stepbrother, and attend his final year of high school He knows he likes boys but all he sees in the media are images of people dying of AIDS, so he knows he has to keep his true self hidden.Judy has always been her own person, an aspiring fashion designer with a bold sense of style She spends all of her spare time with her best friend, Art, and her uncle, Stephen, who is dying of AIDS and is a prominent member of ACT UP The one thing Judy wants to find is love, but she doubts she ll ever find anyone to love her for who she is.Art is out and proud, a talented photographer who tries to put the constant bullying of his peers and the disdain of his parents behind him He documents the work of the ACT UP activists through his photographs Stephen is his role model, and he spends so much time learning from him Art wants to find someone to love him, but love and sex in the midst of so much uncertainty around AIDS frightens him.Reza and Judy start dating, and Art feels like a third wheel But Art and Reza are drawn to each other Reza tries desperately to fight his attraction to Art, because he doesn t want to disappoint his mother and he worries that acknowledging his sexuality will doom him to a death sentence of AIDS Art wants Reza, but knows that Judy is happy with him, and he doesn t want to betray his one true friend There may be no harder place to be queer than high school, a place of bullies and slurs, a place steeped in rituals of heterosexuality Who s dating who Who kissed who Who will be homecoming king and queen Who will be your prom date And you have to play along, because if you don t, your difference has a spotlight on it Abdi Nazemian s incredibly moving, heartfelt Like A Love Story so accurately captures what it was like to come to terms with your sexuality during the early days of the AIDS crisis You were tremendously fearful of even kissing someone, because you worked out elaborate circumstances in your head by which you could contract the disease And if you got AIDS, who would love you Your family would abandon you, the government would gouge you on the price of drugs, and you would be a pariah So why not hide your true self instead, pretend to be normal This is a book about friendship, family, fear, acceptance, and finding love It s a story about finding the courage to be yourself even in a world full of fear, and finding your people, who will love you and accept you no matter what It s also a beautiful love letter of sorts to those who came before us, who loved fearlessly and joyfully, who finally lived the lives they dreamed of, without worrying what people thought of them, and it s a tribute to all of the people who died of AIDS and lost loved ones and lived in courage rather than fear.I had been waiting for this book to be released and I jumped on it the day it was published I loved every single minute of Like A Love Story It s gorgeous and funny and sad and beautifully written, and all too many times I found myself nodding, recognizing myself in certain situations Nazemian put every ounce of his heart into this story and it shows, and I m definitely going to go back and read his earlier books, because I love the way he writes.I love books that effectively capture a specific time and place, and Like A Love Story did that It is an important, hopeful book that deserves every accolade it receives See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at You can follow me on Instagram at wowowowow, this is one of those stories that hollows you out completely and then makes you whole again it s a love letter to the queer community, and to past queer activists who have paved the way for all of us to live better lives today I can t think of a better read heading into pride month. I didn t mean to make this a full on rant, but it turned out that way because I just really hated so many things in this book this is definitely one of my messier reviews, but I just had a lot of bad things to say, and it really isn t organized Isn t love supposed to conquer all Then let it conquer AIDS I m going to talk about Judy specifically right now because I had the most problems with her the way Judy was written is why I will never trust men writing female characters she I didn t mean to make this a full on rant, but it turned out that way because I just really hated so many things in this book this is definitely one of my messier reviews, but I just had a lot of bad things to say, and it really isn t organized Isn t love supposed to conquer all Then let it conquer AIDS I m going to talk about Judy specifically right now because I had the most problems with her the way Judy was written is why I will never trust men writing female characters she definitely was suffering from girl hate and I m not like other girls in the beginning, and while she did grow and change throughout the story to not hate other girls I just don t think it s the place of a man to write that kind of thing it makes you question if the things in the beginning that Judy thought about other girls women this beautiful usually aren t very funny my theory is that they never develop a sense of humor because their beauty gets them through life too easily are things that this male author has actually thought about women idk there s a part that specifically says I always thought I hated girls, and now I m group hugging a bunch of them like they re my long lost sisters I made a note on Kindle here that said I ALWAYS THOUGHT I HATED GIRLS WHEKLFHSDLF because it really just took me out , so it s obvious that she s supposed to change throughout the story and not be a girl hater but it was just so WEIRD like yay thank god she changed, but I don t know why did the only prominent female character in this book have to hate other girls and why was she proud of it I also want to touch on something that made me personally very uncomfortable with Judy, beyond everything I just mentioned the gay rep is ownvoices and I m not a mlm so I don t want to overstep, but it felt super super weird to me when Judy said things like when I have kids, I want them to be gay but I ll accept them if they re straight and I d like to be in a place where all the men seem gay a world of men who act gay, but who like women like please tell me I m not the only one who thinks those are weird statements for a straight girl to make You are not alone and never will be, because you have a beautiful, constantly evolving history full of ghosts who are watching over you, who are proud of you I think I ve ranted on about Judy enough, so on to the next character I hated Art I m gonna be honest with you, I don t have nearly as many critiques for him as I did for Judy, he was just an annoying character to me so that s a personal thing might be because I saw him as a stereotypical white gay, who knows but I did have an issue with the way he kept trying to push Reza to have sex when Reza was uncomfortable and really scared because of AIDS like Art literally got naked and started pushing up against Reza from the author s note where the author talked a bit about a not so healthy relationship he had been in as a gay teen, I thought maybe the pushiness might have been intentional but I just really needed for that kind of behavior to be challenged in the text, and it wasn t also yeah this should go in the Judy section but writing about this specific instance reminded me of a scene where Judy tried to feel if Reza had a boner by putting a hand on his crotch and my Kindle note for this one was what is going on before touching on the other things I was uncomfortable with found weird, I also had an issue with the actual craft of the story the pacing was very strange and there was no actual development of certain character relationships, so it felt so weird to see them care so strongly for one another I m a notorious insta love hater, so when I saw I could tell him that I think I love him too my Kindle note was simply but u just met him and I think that does a good job of conveying my annoyance the way the love triangle conflict was resolved was just so poorly written there was two big arguments and in both of them, I hated the way Judy was acting , and then suddenly Judy was just out of the picture and not involved in the story until the end it felt weird to keep including her POV, and honestly her whole POV was bad anyways, so I think the book could have benefited from just throwing away all her POV chaptersUs All of us What we did What we fought for Our history Who we are They won t teach it in schools They don t want us to have a history They don t see us They don t know we are another country, with invisible borders, that we are a people You have to make them see You have to remember it And to share it Please Time passes, and people forget Don t let themmoving on to other things that made me uncomfortable first of all, I had an issue with the way certain things came off as transphobic I basically want to sleep with everyone with a Y chromosome any time there s a gay character who says they rely on chromosome for the basis of their attraction, it is always ALWAYS the worst because it blatantly ignores trans people We love men, and women, and men who dress like women, and women who dress like men this was weird specifically because I couldn t tell if the author was talking about drag fine or trans people not fine because dressing like is basically saying they re not actually trans a character literally deadnamed a trans character without it being challenged like oh my god you are a queer rights activist how are you deadnaming a trans person overall this had a very cis gay perspective on the queer activist movements in the US, when an integral part of these queer activist movements in the US were Black trans women I know Madonna was important to the author, but she, a straight white woman, wasimportant to the characters activism than someone like, I don t know, Marsha P Johnson all of this just made me feel really uncomfortable because in a book that is so obviously a love letter to historical LGBTQIAP activism it left out mistreated a huge part of the community at one point, Art says the f slur, and Reza says he hates that word and it makes him uncomfortable Art replies, get over it I ve reclaimed it, and so should you I m all for reclaiming slurs that are yours to reclaim, obviously , but this was just not it I don t know who needs to hear this but if your gay boyfriend says that the f slur makes him uncomfortable, your response to him should not be get over it like also speaking of slurs, at one point the d slur is used and it just made me because as someone who is not a lesbian, it is not the author s place to write it at the end, view spoiler Stephen, a character with AIDS, dies it s very tragic for all the characters, because he was important to them, hide spoiler but literally the next chapter, Art and Reza have sex and that s such a significant moment for Reza, because the entire time in the book, Reza is terrified of having sex due to AIDS so placing that sex scene right after that chapter felt so disrespectful, to both view spoiler Stephen hide spoiler and Reza in relation to his character growth, when it could have been written with so muchcare had there been, I don t know, literally any chapter between that But most of all, we love each other Know that We love each other We care for each other We are brothers and sisters, mentors and students, and together we are limitless and whole The most important four letter word in our history will always be LOVE That s what we are fighting for That s who we are Love is our legacy overall, I just did not have a good time reading this book at one point I did cry a little bit, because there were a few heart tugging moments and quotes, and I got emotional about how I and other people like me would not have the rights we do today because of the queer rights activism that was touched on in this book I did like Reza s character a lot my heart broke for him repeatedly and I also liked seeing the way that first love was not written as the end all, be all like it often is in YA but clearly none of that was enough to redeem this book for me I appreciate the story it was telling about activism and AIDS in the US, especially from an ownvoices gay Iranian author, but there were just so many things that felt weird and didn t work for me, unfortunately while I am a queer Asian like the author, I m definitely not a mlm, so I m going to direct you to this great review from a mlm of color it touched on other issues in the book, and I thought it was really well writtenrep gay Iranian MC, gay MC, fat MC, gay side characters, Iranian side characters content warnings homophobia including internalized , racism, AIDS, bullying, death of loved ones, use of d and f slur, deadnaming of a trans character buddy read with the loveliest If you see an elderly person walking down the street, or across from you at a coffee shop, don t look away from them, don t dismiss them, and don t just ask them how they re doing Ask them where they have been instead And then listen.Because there s no future without a past LIKE A LOVE STORY is a little like a love story, really Butin the sense of love for oneself, one s body, and one s community I think it did a really good job of that, particularly when propped up against the setting, but when it comes to the love story, the romance, within the book it kinda failed And by kinda I mean really.Nazemian s story takes place on the cusp of the nineties, in 1989, and is set against the AIDS crisis Not as a backdrop but as a very real threat and very present LIKE A LOVE STORY is a little like a love story, really Butin the sense of love for oneself, one s body, and one s community I think it did a really good job of that, particularly when propped up against the setting, but when it comes to the love story, the romance, within the book it kinda failed And by kinda I mean really.Nazemian s story takes place on the cusp of the nineties, in 1989, and is set against the AIDS crisis Not as a backdrop but as a very real threat and very present player for our three protagonists Art is out and proud and angry His best friend, Judy, has an uncle dying of AIDS And the new kid, originally from Iran, is Reza someone both friends fall for but who, despite initially dating Judy, is closeted I knew this wouldn t be an easy story but I knew it would be an important one It was a frightening time and is made eventerrifying when held up against the current social and political climate Addressing the bigotry and the homophobia was all very visceral and awful but well done I felt like I was living it Where the fear of touch, of being touched, infected every interaction Where not subscribing to white, heteronormative, ideals made you worthy of hate or shunning Where it was acceptable to wish your son dead just for being queer Where hate fuelled both sides of the equation one side for being ushered into an early grave just for being who they were, and the other for not understanding or not accepting people different from themselves What I believe failed this story was the characters.The romance is fast tracked as is fairly typical though the fact that these two besties go from zero to eleven within half a page over the new kid is unlikely as it is but for it to be turned into a triangle, infusing unnecessary drama into the mix, just becomes tedious and ultimately, it s the leads that do a disservice to the goings on around them Or, rather, I feel they overshadowed the rest with their nonsense I outright disliked two of the POVs onestrongly than the other but overall it was their behaviours, too, that I just couldn t stand The most important four letter word in our history will always be LOVE That s what we are fighting for That s who we are Love is our legacy.I m heartbroken that this didn t work but I do think, if the synopsis draws you in, you should still pick it up LIKE A LOVE STORY is a book that features a four star topic but is, unfortunately, saddled with one star protagonists I received an ARC from the publisher thank you in exchange for an honest review This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities 4.5 I don t really write reviews on goodreads any but wow was this an amazing, beautiful, important book A great read to start Pride Month I higgggghly recommend that you read it. 2nd reading, and I love this book so much Endless love Truly one of the best books I ve read all year, Like a Love Story has the potential for wide appeal, but perhaps its greatest strength is how unflinchingly queer it is Abdi Nazemian writes a book that could be and honestly should be read by everyone, but it is above all a love letter to queer youth and anyone who ever was a queer youth.It s a history lesson about what it was like to be queer in the late 80s and early 90s, the way AI 2nd reading, and I love this book so much Endless love Truly one of the best books I ve read all year, Like a Love Story has the potential for wide appeal, but perhaps its greatest strength is how unflinchingly queer it is Abdi Nazemian writes a book that could be and honestly should be read by everyone, but it is above all a love letter to queer youth and anyone who ever was a queer youth.It s a history lesson about what it was like to be queer in the late 80s and early 90s, the way AIDS put a dark fearful cloud on so many human beings as they were coming of age But while well researched, this is fiction and it has a lovely fairy tale vibe without every losing any gritty human emotion.Here s a passage I adore Us All of us What we did Our history Who we are They won t teach it in schools They don t want us to have a history They don t see us They don t know we are another country, with invisible borders, that we are a people You have to make them see You have to remember it And to share it Please Time passes, and people forget Don t let them Music particularly Madonna plays a huge role in the novel, and the scene when the characters go to a Madonna concert is one of the greatest scenes in the book, IMO It actually moved me to tears as I thought about the first Tori Amos concerts I went to and how I felt so SEEN and LOVED during those shows You can just tell that Nazemian has truly lived so many of the things of this book because of its honesty, and it s clear that this book is a labor of love.If I could control things, I would love to see this book reach the kind of readership The Hate U Give has found Queer youth today face fewer challenges than Art and Reza face in the book, when falling in love with someone seemed, to many, to equal disease and death, and certainly fewer than Stephen and Jimmy , but there is still such a long way to go Too many queer youth still struggle with crippling depression and hurt themselves because they don t know how to accept themselves or belong to communities that don t see them Many still equate being queer with loneliness and shame and even death And so I m so glad for all the love and hope in this novel, one that never lets go of the beauty and necessity of resistance.This is the best book for Pride Month that I could have possibly asked for and maybe one of the best YA novels I ve ever read for all the love it exudes I don t often buy multiple copies for my classroom, but I will be buyingof this one I want to share this with everyone.Let me end this short review which falls far short of what this book means to me with this incredible passage that needs to be sent out to every LGBTQ kid everywhere I ll tell you what we will never be deficient of LOVE We love art and beauty We love new ideas and pushing boundaries We love fighting against corruption We love redefining archaic rules We love men, and women, and men who dress like women, and women who dress like men We love tops and bottoms, and top hats, especially when worn by Marlene Dietrich But most of all, we love each other Know that We love each other We care for each other We are brothers and sisters, mentors and students, and together we are limitless and whole The most important four letter word in our history will always be LOVE That s what we are fighting for That s who we are Love is our legacy


About the Author: Abdi Nazemian

Abdi Nazemian spent his childhood in a series of exciting locations Tehran, Paris, Toronto, New York , but could usually be found in his bedroom watching old movies, listening to Madonna or reading Archie comic books He lives in Los Angeles with his husband and their two children.Abdi s first novel, THE WALK IN CLOSET, was released in 2015 by Curtis Brown Unlimited, and was awarded Best Debut at the Lambda Literary Awards His debut young adult novel, THE AUTHENTICS, was released by Balzer Bray HarperCollins in 2017, and his third novel LIKE A LOVE STORY was released by Balzer Bray HarperCollins on June 4, 2020.As Head of Development for Water s End Productions, Abdi has been an executive producer or associate producer on a number of films, including CALL ME BY YOUR NAME and LITTLE WOODS Abdi has written for the television shows THE VILLAGE and ALMOST FAMILY Abdi has written five produced films THE ARTIST S WIFE 2020 , MENENDEZ BLOOD BROTHERS Lifetime, 2017 , THE QUIET Sony Pictures Classics, 2006 , CELESTE IN THE CITY ABC Family, 2004 , and BEAUTIFUL GIRL ABC FAMILY, 2003 He also wrote, directed and produced the short film REVOLUTION 2012 Abdi is not the inspiration for Madonna s children s book The Adventures of Abdi, though he will forever insist that he is.


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