Social Intercourse by Greg Howard
Release Date: 5th June 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Blurb: Beckett Gaines, a gay teen living in South Carolina, has his world turned upside-down by a jock in this laugh-out-loud novel that’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets The Parent Trap.
Beck: The Golden Girl-loving, out-and-proud choir nerd growing up in the “ass-crack of the Bible belt.”
Jax: The Golden Boy, star quarterback with a slick veneer facing uncomfortable truths about himself and his past.
When Beck’s emotionally fragile dad starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of former bully, Jaxon Parker, Beck is not having it. Jax isn’t happy about the situation either, holding out hope that his moms will reunite and restore the only stable home he’s ever known. Putting aside past differences, the boys plot to derail the budding romance between their parents at their conservative hometown’s first-ever Rainbow Prom. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.
In his hilarious and provocative debut, Greg Howard examines the challenges of growing up different in a small southern town through the lens of colorful and unforgettable characters who stay with you long after the last drop of sweet tea.
Social Intercourse is told from the perspectives of Beckett and Jaxon as they try to stop Beck’s dad and Jax’s mum from dating. Jax, because he wants his mums to get back together and they gave him love and stability. Beck, because it’s been him and his dad for a while now and he doesn’t want to watch his dad get his heart broken again.
Social Intercourse is a laugh-out-loud romp that I thoroughly enjoyed. Beck in particular is a witty, lovable arsehole. It’s a little vulgar at times but a whole lot of fun. Shelby, Beck’s best friend is such a great character and it’s hilarious watching Beck and Shelby be partners-in-crime.
Our faces are so close I feel the heat of his breath on my lips. “Can I kiss you, Beckett Gaines?”
One of the things I liked about Social Intercourse was that Beck and Jax, as well as some side characters, are messy flawed humans. There were times when I wanted to shake them because it’s like ‘are you listening to yourself right now’. But it’s kind of refreshing, because they speak and act without thinking, they are manipulative and don’t always remember to look outside of themselves and how their actions impact others. That’s not to say they can’t be held accountable for their actions but sometimes it seems we forget that teenagers are teenagers and they are still growing as people and mistakes aren’t always malicious.
This is definitely on the upper end of YA. It’s raunchy at times, as I said a bit vulgar and some of the humour is on the darker side and it’s graphic (there’s an explicit masturbation scene). This was a really enjoyable read. The messiness/realness of the characters meant that some part were a tad uncomfortable to read because it’s like ‘what are you doing?! Oh god’, it’s one of those books that won’t be for everyone but I loved it.
“Sir, Beckett Gaines,” she says, and waves me in. I like the sound of that. Sir Beckett Gaines. Note to self: get knighted.
I would also add some trigger warnings. In Jax’s attempt to get his mums back together some of the things he says come across as biphobic despite being bi and coming to terms with being attracted to men himself. As a bi person I didn’t have a problem reading it because to me it was a kid desperate to keep his world together when it’s falling apart, however, that doesn’t other people can’t be hurt by it so be aware of this. This is set in a small and deeply religious southern town so Beck and Jax as well as the other queer characters face homophobia and there’s a WBC-esque group as well. T****y slur (called out on page), f*g/f****t, misogyny.
*I received an arc in exchange for an honest review*