Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on May 27th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
A heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny story of romance, family, and self-discovery.
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. 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 freshman 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. 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.
After hearing Michael Barakiva speak at the Teen Author Carnival, I was immediately sold. I needed One Man Guy in my life – and my instincts were 100% correct, because this book was laugh-out-loud funny and adorable and just left me with the biggest smile on my face.
The great thing about meeting Michael Barakiva in person, and what convinced me to buy his book, was that I’d already gotten a taste of his voice. He has such a great wry sense of humor that is perfect in this book. And the way this blends with the authenticity of the Armenian culture and all the quirks of Alek’s family is just hilarious. From page one I was captivated by this poor teenager embarrassed by his culture’s quirks. His sarcasm was pure gold and had me laughing out loud. But it was such a vivid, realistic picture – I absolutely loved it. And not knowing anything about the Armenian culture beforehand, I loved learning more about it as well.
I’m going to be upfront and say that this is my first LGBT straight up romance. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of LGBT side ships in contemporaries and even some other genres, and I always appreciate the diversity, but I’ve stayed away from most books where LGBT is the central focus because often the books are heavy. Questioning your sexuality usually comes with a side of bullying and family drama and, well, though it’s realistic, I don’t really like sad things. That’s what made One Man Guy so freaking perfect for me. This book is just light and fun, and it really promotes this brilliant accepting environment. Yeah, Alek worries about coming out to his friends and, more importantly, his family, but they’re all so freaking wonderful about it. I just want to throw this book into society’s face and be like, “YAY LOVE. PLEASE ALL BE LIKE THIS.”
But seriously, all the relationship dynamics are so unique and wonderful. Ethan and Alek are obviously adorable. I love how they both really make each other strive to be better. Alek standing up to him for using the word “faggot” before knowing Ethan was gay? My heart melted. Alek is a bit shy, but he can be really tough when it comes to standing up for what he believes is right, so that made him really endearing to me. Ethan is the experienced older guy, with a tendency for breaking the rules, and together they are gold. Alek’s struggles with his family were also so quirky and interesting – almost heart breaking at the end. They made me all mushy! But the best relationship has to be the one between Alek and Becca, his best friend. Oh my god, those two. THE BANTER. SO MUCH BANTER. SO MUCH SARCASM. I pretty much died laughing.
The only thing that really keeps me from giving this lovely little book the full 5 oranges it would likely deserve is that it’s so short! I’m a bit sad that we don’t get to see anymore of Alek and Ethan’s relationship after that. The fact that there wasn’t a large conflict (though thank god, because I loved the light and accepting tone of the book) or massive character development makes the book a bit less meaningful in the long run. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love every second of this – I just wanted more.
Summing Up:This book is just pure happiness. Plain and simple. The hilariousness of Alek’s voice paired with the quirks of the Armenian culture had me laughing out loud. But more than anything, the way that this book promotes a culture of acceptance and understanding, where love is valued no matter the sexuality of those involved, that will have me promoting the hell out of this book – especially to LGBT youths. This is how it should be.
“I haven’t thought about any of that. I mean, do you think people are going to treat me differently? Am I going to behave differently?”
“Alek, it’s not like your personality’s changed, or you just found out that you were adopted and that you’re not really Armenian. You’re still you. You’re just a you that likes boys.” One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva