Title: That One Kid Who Freaked Out, or Whatever
Author: A.J.J. Bourque
Publisher: Alwick Press
Pages/Word Count: 198 Pages
At a Glance: That One Kid Who Freaked Out, or Whatever is a nice addition to the LGBTQ YA space; I’m so glad I stumbled upon it!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Nicandro Stellan Colby is doing his best not to completely freak out, despite the fact that his parents named him after a romance novel zombie, he has no clue what to do after his fast-approaching high school graduation from middle-of-nowhere Wilmurth, Texas, and oh yeah, he just accidentally asked out the boy of his dreams over the school intercom. But all is not lost. Helping Nick remember how to breathe and navigate the choppy waters of dating, surviving senior year, and even learning how to drive are fouled-mouthed lady-in-disguise, Carmen; always-sweaty yet fiercely loyal Connor; and, of course, the guiding hand of Sydney Walker, Nick’s longtime crush and first ever boyfriend. Yet when Nick starts having increasingly petrifying panic attacks, he soon realizes the vast difference between admiring someone from afar and falling under the pressures of their influence.
Okay, so I’m a little awkward in front of fallen angels, and sometimes when I go to let out the awesomeness simmering inside me I revert back to the hot mess of teenage soup bubbling away at the back of the class.
That’s what it’s like to be in Nicandro Stellan Colby’s head. It’s a fun, hilarious, teenagery place. Full of stream-of-consciousness style observations, replete with likes and I can’t evens and all kinds of other teenspeak. He’s charming, and funny – and just a little bit lost.
As I sit out on this not-perfect but still perfectly beautiful back porch with Sydney’s family, and listen to them talk and laugh, and watch the stars, and hear the wind chimes and cicadas on the evening air, I feel the confusing stirrings that the world is so much bigger than I’ve ever dreamed, yet still somehow cozy, warm, and personal, not as if I have to strike out into it and claw and carve out a place for myself with fingernails and determination, but as if a place has always been waiting for me, comfortably prepared and patiently reserved with my name on it.
That ^ is ALSO what it’s like to be in Nick’s head. It’s a smart, sensitive, deep thoughts type place where we get to know his nearly eighteen-year-old self and learn a bit about his dreams, and what it is that makes him fear the future and feel like he’s drifting.
I enjoyed the duality of Nick, and because it’s his journey we’re on, in turn, the duality of the book. At times Nick reads as this sort of breezy teen – with his grand plan to ask out his crush, work on the current drama production, and play basketball in the spring. At other times, however, we see Nick’s anxiety, his need to please everyone, and ultimately, his ‘freakouts’ during this small snapshot of his senior year in high school.
Flowing along with Nick’s triumphs and struggles, the tone of the book changes from the first half to the second. A.J.J. Bourque’s writing jumps between the abovementioned ‘teenspeak’ and the beautiful poetic prose of the second quote used above. Rather than wrestling with this dichotomy of style, I chose to just roll with it and let the book happen. So glad I did.
That One Kid Who Freaked Out, Or Whatever appears to be the first book published by this author – and I think he did a wonderful job with it. I liked Nick very much. I adored his family. The supporting characters were different and fun, for the most part. And, there were some great messages regarding individuality, honoring yourself, and trusting your family and friends with your feelings and your fears. This is a nice addition to the LGBTQ YA space; I’m so glad I stumbled upon it!
You can buy That One Kid Who Freaked Out, or Whatever here: