Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Arsenal Pup Press
Pages: 176 pages
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book.
When Everything Feels Like the Movies is the story of Jude and his life as a transgender teen in high school. It is based on the true story of Larry Fobes KIng and the homophobic act that changed his whole life. I won't discuss it too much here, because it gives away the plot of the book, but there's a great summary here if you're okay with spoilers.
Everything Feels Like the Movies is such an important book. Jude is gay and openly interested in female clothing and make-up. Combine this with high school and it means that a lot of other teens are close minded. In a YA publishing landscape where straight white girls are the norm, this book was a breath of fresh air. Homosexuality, drug use, abortions,... Literally everything is discussed and I think teens reading this book will feel more comfortable talking about those issues.
However the way all those issues are handled in this book made me feel very uncomfortable at times. While Raziel Reid addresses all the topics that are important for contemporary teens, he kind of brushes over them at times. Abortion is casually mentioned, Jude takes hardcore drugs like they're M&Ms and every single homophobic remark that is made seems to completely miss Jude's feelings. Everything is glamourized, which makes sense for Jude's obsession for seeing life as a Hollywood movie, but I just wish we saw Jude's feelings more. Is he ever hurt? How did he build up those walls? When Everything Feels Like the Movies is such an important novel and I wish I got more insight into the main character and his thoughts. It was superficial and rushed and I wish there were 100 pages added to make the whole book more intense.
Another thing that bugged me was the flatness of the side characters. Again in line with Jude's Hollywood vision, it's all about him and everyone else is caricature of themselves. Jude's mom is the heartless stripper, his best friend is the slut, his father is a runaway dad, his stepfather the abuse asshole,... While they all are those things, I wanted to see them more in depth too. How did they become these people? Has Jude known them as anything else? Here is so much potential to show human problems and it is just glanced over by the author.
Overall, When Everything Feels Like the Movies is an important book that will definitely get people talking. If you want a book that reads like a Hollywood movie, then this is the one for you. I however was left with an empty and unsatisfied feeling about Jude and his world. I can't wait what Raziel Reid will write next, but I just hope it's more in depth than this novel.