by Anna Gracia
Publication: July 26, 2022
**I was on the social media tour for Boys I Know organized by Colored Pages Blog Tours from July 5-11th. You can check out my Instagram Feed Post here. You can check out the tour schedule below for Instagram and Vlog Posts.**
June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.
While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”
But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna grew up biracial in the Midwest, spending her formative years repeatedly answering the question, “What are you?” Before finding her way as a YA author, she was a CPA, a public school teacher, a tennis coach, and for one glorious summer, a waitress at a pie shop. She now lives on the West Coast, raising three kids and writing stories about girls navigating a world full of double standards.
**I was provided a copy of the book through Colored Pages Blog Tours as a Tour Participant . I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
June’s life is complicated, just as it is for anyone her age. Being a senior in high school means navigating a multitude of things concurrently, including school, family, friendships, and relationships, while being told to make decisions about the future right now–where to go to college, what to study, and what career to pursue. I immediately saw some of myself in June, recalling being just as confused and unsure at that age. Like June, I wanted my freedom, but I also had this innate desire to please my parents while also believing I wasn’t good enough. I wanted to yell at her for some of her choices, but I also understood the reasons behind them. June is imperfect, which makes it easy to be exasperated with her, but it’s also what makes her a relatable character.
Because June’s emotions often lead the way, it’s only after she has rushed ahead that she has epiphanies–hindsight is often 20/20. She made my head and my heart hurt, but that’s part of what made her feel like a real teenager straddling this middle place where she isn’t a kid but not quite an adult. It’s a realistic depiction of how hard it is. Not every decision will be the right one, and it sucks, but the best we can do is learn from them. June’s introspection is where she displays her growth. This is how the boys she knows each play a role in her life. They serve as stepping stones, helping to pave the way to figuring out who she is and possibly who she wants to be.
June’s authenticity comes across effectively because Gracia doesn’t romanticize the experience. The story is complex. It is raw and messy, filled with the complicated feelings of growing up and pushing forward. I enjoyed the book immensely, but I was also a mix of emotions throughout. After I finished the book, my first thought was, “what happens now?” This is a measure of how much I liked the book, because I rarely feel this way after I finish reading. I had become invested in June and wanted to share in her new experiences, to discover if she was finally comfortable in her own skin. Most of all, I wanted to know that everything turned out okay.
Gracia’s straightforward writing style provides insight into the of the joys and pains of growing up. It provides a realistic portrayal of a teen on the cusp of becoming an adult and trying to find her place. June isn’t perfect and stumbles along the way, but it often leads to a greater understanding of who she is and what she wants. I recommend this for readers looking for a book that doesn’t idealize moving forward.
**Thank you to Colored Pages Blog Tours, Peachtree Teen, and Anna Gracia for the ARC. Thank you for sharing June with the world.**