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It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

It Looks Like This

by Rafi Mittlefehldt

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Mike and his family move from Wisconsin to Virginia for his father's new job. Mike isn't thrilled, as he's in high school, but the family is used to doing what Mike's overbearing father desires. Quiet Mike, who loves art more than sports, doesn't fit in well with his religious family, or with a lot of the boys at his school. Quickly, he finds himself being bullied by several kids at school and pressured by his father to join a school sports team. But Mike finds comfort when he meets Sean, another kid at school, and the two become fast friends. However, other people at school have an eye on the pair's friendship, too.

This book is heartbreaking in many ways, but hard to describe without completely ruining the entire plot. It's a lovely gem of a LGBT book. It's difficult to read: the dialogue is all jammed together (no quotation marks, for example) and in my ARC, there wasn't even a space between the start of a new section of thought. Once you get used to that, it's easier to read, and you get into the flow of Mike's thoughts. Tension builds slowly, as you learn more about Mike, his life, and his inner thoughts and desires.

I wish this book could be standard reading for gay youth--and their parents. It's poignant and truthful, albeit it hurt my heart in many places. I don't typically seem to read a lot of YA novels with male narrators, but this is the second I've picked up recently, and it blew the other one out of the water. I quickly grew fond of Mike, whom I wanted to take in, and I loved his spunky younger sister, Toby. Mike's never-ending need for detail grows old at times (just get on with story already), but this is still a worthy read, and certainly a great tale for LGBT youth. It definitely affected me deeply.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 9/13/2016. ( )
  justacatandabook | Jul 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a free advanced copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

This book deals with issues faced by some LGBT teens in what I felt was such a realistic way, that the storytelling was almost too real for me at times in the beginning...I wanted more that just a detailed account of the main character Mike’s day to day life. It's also a little odd that there’s no quotation marks around dialogue. This is until I realized the importance of that realism because the story (sadly) reflects how some families with LGBT teens think, feel, behave, etc. As it went on, Mike’s story of discovering his sexuality, which conflicts with the religious beliefs of his family, became heavy and sad in a way that real life is sometimes. This book might be good to give to a LGBT teen or someone who knows a LGBT teen who is facing negative reactions after coming out to family and friends (at least for them to know they are not alone). Thankfully, despite all the heartbreaking trauma that happens to Mike, there are some allies that shine through in the story (like his sister) and there’s also a positive ending that gives some hope to the situation. ( )
  nicholsm | Sep 28, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a powerful, well-written debut!
While it took a while for me to get used to the lack of quotation marks with dialogue, this story grabbed my attention very early. Mike and his family (Mom, Caroline, Dad, Walton, and sister, Toby) move from Wisconsin to Virginia just in time for Mike to start school as a freshman.
With the typical pressures of entering high school come the other pressures from his father - play more sports, make new friends, come to church more often, stop being soft - and Mike's sexual awakening. He finds himself attracted to a slightly older boy who joins his French class after the term begins. Sean intrigues him. Sean offers to work together on their class project. Sean's parents travel for church frequently, leaving him on his own sometimes.
As they get to know each other, their attraction grows.
Mike's relationships with his family, other friends, and the bullies in school are all affected by this new person in Mike's life.
Mike's relationships with his father and his younger sister are especially well-defined.
Mike grows up fast as he moves from fourteen to fifteen years old. He learns about love, hate, inconsideration, disgust, judgement, hope, change, and consequences.
The author gives Mike an eye for the details around him - the tiny things that happen as a person pauses mid-bite at dinner, the colors changing as the sun rises, the specific parts of a person's face and body. Making Mike artistic adds to the depth of the characterization.

I'm unsure that I am able to fully write about my thoughts on this story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it - even the uncomfortable sections - but may need to reflect further and edit this review. ( )
  aimless22 | Aug 14, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book had a heavy topic, but it was very fun to read and it had a cute "falling in love despite the odds" theme to it. The narrator's voice was unique and the author did a very good job of telling the story through a teenager and getting the emotions and thoughts right without making it a purely "kids" book. I really enjoyed reading the story and getting to know the characters, who were believable and interesting. ( )
  thebibliophile1 | Aug 13, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a difficult time getting into this book. The author choose to tell readers what was taking place and honestly, my first thought was that it read like a journal from someone who could memorize what people said. The second thought was w feeling of being left down and disappointed that as a reader, the author didn't know how, or perhaps had little faith in getting me to come to the conclusion(s) he desired.
However, once I got used to the odd style, I found this book to be a book with some valuable lessons packed away. It also showed what can happen when intolerance occurs. This book tackles a lot of big issues that I won't get into.
All I will say is give this book a fighting chance. You just might surprise yourself. ( )
  eeminxs | Aug 9, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763687197, Hardcover)

In spare, understated prose heightened by a keen lyricism, a debut author will take your breath away.

A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands. Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and "hey" becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand. In guarded, Carveresque prose that propels you forward with a sense of stomach-dropping inevitability, Rafi Mittlefehldt tells a wrenching tale of first love and loss that exposes the undercurrents of a tidy suburban world. Heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming, It Looks Like This is a novel of love and family and forgiveness—not just of others, but of yourself.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 06 Jun 2016 18:34:54 -0400)

Moving to a new city and joining an evangelical church despite his own reluctance, artistic Mike is bullied by a father who wants him to play sports and toughen up, a situation that is complicated by Mike's growing feelings for another newcomer.

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