Contemporary YA novels and I have kept a respectful distance from each other since I attended high school. That is to say, I see well-received novels in this genre come out each year but because I find them hit or miss, I tend to only pick up those with premises that standout or by authors who I find interesting. These two necessities converged when I heard of This Is Why They Hate Us by debut author Aaron Aceves.
This Is Why They Hate Us is about a teenager using his last summer before it all gets too serious in pursuit of a practically messy love life in order to get over the crush that has always seemed out of reach. The further Quique wades into other romantic waters, the more he learns that he can hide from his emotions. It doesn’t help that with each romantic prospect, he wonders if there’s more to what’s in front of him. Luckily, his best friend Fabiola is on similar journey of standing in their newly lived queerness so Quique has a confidant for most of his conflicting feelings. That is, until Fabiola’s messy pursuits overlap with his own and Quique feels like a man adrift as he struggles to navigate whether it is safe to share his sexuality with his various crushes and family.
As a seeker of mess, this story appealed to me not only because I find it entertaining but because I can’t help but recognize a similar rationale behind how I moved at 17. The novel also reminds me that no matter what age we are, the way we move around an obstacle we find insurmountable in the face of a greater desire will always be measured by how we approach fear. If you’re looking for a book that features all these components in one, This Is Why They Hate Us is definitely worth adding to your TBR.