Thursday, March 13, 2014

REVIEW: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up because the book description promised humor and romance, and I love humor and romance. Not to mention the book cover was cheery yellow. Sure enough, the book was accurate as advertised.

I had worried how the theme of homophobia would be presented because I didn't want Alek and Ethan to get hurt. I didn't want to read something sad especially when the book promised humor. I still recall the disappointment of How to Repair a Mechanical Heart. Thankfully, the theme of acceptance put my worries to rest.

+ the characters

As I followed Alek's narration, I couldn't help but think about my teenage years. Alek made several bad decisions such as cutting class and lying to his parents. However, I found it pretty hard to condemn him for his decisions because it would be the pot calling the kettle black. As I judged Alek, I also judged myself. I cringed as my memories threw out all the stupid things I did on the front stage of my mind. I know one does not need the moral high ground to point out something that is outright stupid, but I still cringed regardless.

I had little problem judging Ethan, though. Heh. While most of the blame is upon Alek, Ethan was no innocent. Ethan was awesome for saving Alek from a bully, but it didn't change the fact that he was a bad boy cliche. He was part of a clique called D.O., which is short for Drop Outs and self-explanatory. The D.O. were the last classmates Alek should be hanging out with. If Alek wasn't easily influenced I wouldn't have cared, but he was. Ethan led Alek on the same prospectless path. I liked that Ethan was broadening Alek's world horizon, but they could have done it without delinquency.

Finally, Ethan wasn't sensitive to Alek's needs, which I found highly ironic. Ethan was making the same mistake with Alek as his selfish ex-boyfriend made with him. I didn't care for Ethan for most of the book, but in the end he won my heart as he won Alek's.

Alek and Ethan were flawed enough to be believable, but smart enough to realize their mistakes so the story was not frustrating to read. I liked that they were portrayed as teenagers who made stupid mistakes and not stupid teenagers being stupid.

Honorable mention is Becky, Alek's best friend. I saw the misunderstanding with her a mile away. I'm glad it was quickly fixed. I was relieved she stayed a true friend and supported Alek throughout the book. I loved how bluntly she pointed out that Alek had a crush on Ethan immediately after Alek told her about his new friendship with Ethan. It was funny how Alek could be so oblivious about himself and other people.

+ the plot

In the beginning, Alek's Armenian heritage was the source of his teenage drama. Alek's family was high-maintenance, and they had high expectations for their children, Alek and his big brother Nik. But later Alek came to realize that as much as the heritage was a pain in the neck for him, it was an important part of his identity and pride. Because of Alek, I learned a bunch about the Armenian history, culture, and food — especially the food. Warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach.

The romance was slow and nice for one that had several red flags because Alek made bad decisions. The ending was a HEA, which pleasantly surprised me. The most I expected was an Okay For Now ending, not even a Happy For Now ending, because it is a Young Adult contemporary. It was a little unbelievable how quickly some of the characters reconciled, but I confess I didn't care.

The one thing that book dropped the ball on was the bullying. It was unbelievable that Alek and the bully were on good term after the incident. But based on the many things the book could have dropped the ball on and the overwhelming theme of reconciliation, I let it slide.


I rate One Man Guy 4-stars for I really liked it. I bumped the book up a star because it left a big grin on my face at the end, unlike How to Repair a Mechanical Heart.

For a book that simply promised humor and romance, it delivered a lot more than humor and romance. There were themes of family, friendship, acceptance, and reconciliation to list a few. And then there was the HEA, which was icing on the cake. I can totally imagine the book as a romantic comedy movie.

Book Description

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything "these Americans" could come up with? Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshmen year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself—like you never have before.

Goodreads | Amazon

Post a Comment

You can also comment on the Goodreads version of my review. Click on the rating located in the beginning of my review to get to the webpage.