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review 2017-05-22 16:47
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

I'm always on the lookout for cute LGBTQIAP+ books to read. I heard about One Man Guy a couple of years back but never got around to reading it. When my partner read it and told me that it was a cute read, I went looking for it at my library. I found it, read it, and agree. It is a cute book. However, I do have my problems with it.

 

The first being the writing. I am not in love with this writing style. It's almost too simplistic. To the point where I feel some sentences don't make sense. One sentence in chapter four reads, "He cheated his eyes open a sliver." Reading that is awkward. It doesn't flow well and you feel you need to reread it to make sure you didn't read it wrong. Barakiva did a great job in telling a coming-of-age story about an Armenian teenager discovering himself and his sexuality and I loved learning more about Armenian culture. but his writing style I just could not get behind. 

 

Another thing I had a problem with are the characters. Not so much the main character, Alek. He was sweet, kind, moral, and understanding. I liked him. But the object of his affection, Ethan, is another matter entirely. I didn't see the appeal to him. Seeing as how Alek liked him so much, I wanted to like him, too. And there were some things he did that I just was not a fan of. The way he talked about gay culture was a part of it. His use of the F-word rubbed me the wrong way. He said that if you're a part of that culture, it's okay to use such a word. And, yeah, okay, I get it, but I haven't met many people in the gay community who uses that word as if it were nothing. So it bothered me a bit. Another thing that upset me about Ethan was how he explained it's quite common for gay men to experiment with more than one person, even when they are already in a committed relationship. No. Just no. That's a harmful stereotype that's been perpetuated by our society. To say that gay men CHEAT on their partners is not only wrong but harmful. There are many gay couples who are in committed relationships and DON'T CHEAT ON EACH OTHER. As I've said in other reviews before, if you're in a polyamorous relationship, then it's fine if both partners involved are okay with having other partners. It's NOT okay to lump in every gay couple into being "experimental" with other partners without the other's consent! I did not like that Ethan was teaching Alek this terrible stigma about the gay community. And the last problem I had with Ethan was how misogynistic he was. He made comments when Alek didn't want to do something, he was acting like a girl. I didn't like how he treated Becky, Alek's best friend who is pretty awesome by the way, and thought of her immediately as "lesser" because she was a girl. It took her having to "prove herself" in order for him to show her respect. Just everything about his character was disgusting and I just didn't understand why Alek liked him so much.

 

An aspect that I did like about the book was getting to learn so much about Armenian culture. Especially the food! The food in this book sounds delicious. I've never had Armenian food before but I want to have some now! It was also interesting learning about the Armenian Genocide that happened in Turkey. That is a part of history I am not aware of. It was never taught to us in school, but I'm glad I know about it now. I love learning about history. Especially history that is different from my own culture.

 

Another aspect that bothered me, though, were how Alek's parents were. Oh, the hypocrisy with those two. And the fact that they complained about any little thing to the point where they didn't even want to drink water out of a plastic bottle, I was about to flip. Good thing they eased a tiny bit up towards the end. People like them upset me. DX

 

In short, I thought this book was good. I would recommend it to people who want to learn more about Armenian culture and food, who want to read a cute coming out story, and want a pretty quick read. Keep in mind that there are some homophobic slurs and racism towards Turkish people. These things are questioned and rebuked within the text and shows how it's not okay to do those things. The only thing not ever questioned is the sexism, which is a shame. Other than that, it's a good read so give it a shot if you're curious.

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review 2015-04-06 06:29
One Man Guy
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

This is a pretty straightforward read: boy meets boy, boy kisses boy, etc. I was worried that things seemed to be going a bit too fast on Alek's side. He just barely realized he's gay and already getting pretty serious about Ethan in less than a week. I would think that would take some time to process and build up to, but I can also understand getting caught up in the moment.

 

The best friend Becky cracked me up. She was the right balance of supportive and put upon. We should all have Beckys in our lives. Ethan's friends are pretty great too, once you get past the first impression "bad boy" vibes they give off. ;)

 

The thing that I really enjoyed about the book though was Alek's family. I'll be upfront and say I don't know any Armenians, but I know the author is. This could have felt like a stereotypical portrayal, but Barakia gives these characters depth as the story continues. The difficult parents are quite as difficult, the perfect older brother has his own issues to deal with, and the family has to come to terms with some of their own prejudices. I didn't know anything about the Armenian genocide by the Turks in WWI, so it was interesting - and sad - to read about that and how it still has influence a century later. I really liked the touch of the recipe at the end for the stuffed grape leaves, and I wish there had been more recipes included.

 

There were very few unexpected turns that the story makes, but I found the characters engaging enough that this didn't bother me. This is a comfort read if I ever saw one, perfect for when you're feeling down or just finished a difficult book. 

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review 2015-01-07 04:50
It won't change your life, but it was nice
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

This was a perfectly pleasant 3-star YA mm story that pairs a teen from a culturally immersed Armenian family with a slightly older teen who seems to have minimal parental presence.   There were messages about love and acceptance and doing the right thing.  There were misunderstandings and conflicted loyalties.   For the story backdrop, the angst level was relatively low.  The Armenian food described sounded delicious. 

 

I had one small fit of rage when reading caused by something that Ethan did and the non-existent reaction of Alek.  This plot point is not significant to the story in any way, but it really chapped me since there was Alek as all about doing the RIGHT thing.   ½ star deducted!

 

No story spoilers, but if you want to know what happened that torqued me

While milling around a Barnes & Noble, Ethan takes an expensive looking book, carries it around for a while, and then proceeds to a cashier to return it, claiming it was a gift and he didn't have a receipt.  He got a store credit and gave it to Alek.   Alek doesn't say anything about it which I found inconsistent with his character.  I'm sorry, but what Ethan did was shoplifting, plain and simple.

(spoiler show)
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text 2015-01-06 03:16
Reading progress update: I've read 70%.
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

Not cool Ethan.   Alek, you should have called him out in it, Mr. Right with a capital R.  

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text 2015-01-05 16:53
Reading progress update: I've read 30%.
One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

This is shaping up to be an enjoyable YA read.  Also, the Armenian food sounds scrumptious.  I am intrigued by the sprinkle of sugar on an omelette. 

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