Tuesday, May 27

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Macmillan and is used solely as an aide to the review.

It's unusual for Alek's Armenian family – with their culinary expertise – to dine out. So when the Khederians have dinner at a restaurant of his choosing, Alek is apprehensive. His suspicions prove correct when his parents surprise him with the news that he will be forgoing their family holiday and tennis camp to attend summer school and boost his GPA.

Alek is sure he is in for a tedious summer, until he meets Ethan, a spirited skater boy who whisks him away to the wonders of New York City. Soon Alek and Ethan's relationship is blossoming into something more than friendship, and Alek is re-evaluating his priorities…but at what expense?

Are Rufus Wainwright concerts and first kisses more important than good grades and honesty? Alek will have to figure out how to handle the new developments in his life, before he causes a permanent rift between his friends and family.


'One Man Guy' is a captivating read, written in close third person perspective. From the start, Alek is an empathetic teenager, aggravated by his parents' meticulous nature. Yet, despite the somewhat tedious parts of his family's customs, he is endearingly devoted to his Armenian heritage, and just as appreciative of it as he is critical.

I liked that while Alek's sexuality wasn't something that had been pre-defined at the beginning of the novel 'One Man Guy' was not defined as a coming out story. Instead it dealt with the realities of relationships, without subverting to tropes. Not only in Alek's relationship with Ethan, but also his friendship with Becky, and his dynamic with his family.

Ethan is an interesting character, quite charming and magnetic. He is definitely rough around the edges and could also be crude and dismissive at times. I loved how in-the-know he was about New York City, and the adventures he took Alek on. Being a current resident of Manhattan, I was familiar with many of the tips and tricks Ethan imparted, and I loved experiencing the city through Alek's fresh perspective.

'One Man Guy' swept me away, and left its impression on me. I loved learning about the Armenian history and culture, and I thought all of the characters were wonderfully engaging. I can definitely see myself rereading it in the future and would be quick to recommend.

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