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5 Thoughts About JAY’S GAY AGENDA

Review: Jay's Gay Agenda by Jason June

  • Jay’s Gay Agenda

  • Jason June

  • 1 June 2021

  • HarperTeen

  • Read by ebook

I received an advance review copy of Jay’s Gay Agenda from HarperTeen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes the best solution for a tough situation was just to name it, to say how much things sucked or were weird or difficult, and to figure out how to move forward together. Even if that meant the suckiness and weirdness and difficulty wouldn’t change.

Jason June, Jay’s Gay Agenda

1. So many of these characters are so easy to fall in love with

They all have their little quirks like Jay having the most random statistics memorized and coming up with creative ways to avoid curse words, Albert’s robot building, Lu approaching life like everything’s a news story, and Max’s sass and style. I quickly fell for these characters and wanted to see each of them get their happy endings. On the way to their HEAs, you watch them come of age in ways that are sometimes hilarious, sometimes frustrating but overall relatable for the teens reading and for the adults like me who were once and teenager fumbling through life.

2. I really appreciate the focus on community in the story

Most small-town queer people dream of moving to the city, or at least elsewhere to escape the person they were expected to be growing up and find their people. So to see Jay get to do that in his last year of high school is so! great! Of course, his initial focus is finding cute boys to kiss, because surely that’s the whole point of being openly queer, right? Then on his first day he meets other queer students that welcome him in, and Jay realize that this is also an opportunity to be a part of a community, that being queer is about more than just sex. Being queer is also about self-expression and culture and found family and so many other things, and Jason June does a good job highlighting that.

3. In a way, it felt like everything wrapped up too cleanly for a messy book?

Spoiler! Click to expand

I understand why Jay had to go on an apology tour, but why did it seem like he didn’t get all the proper apologies he deserved. Like when Max apologizes, Jay says there’s no need? Kid, yes there is! I’m mad that it focuses on Jay being sorry for not being there for Lu as much as he should have and lying to her, but not on Lu lashing out and being weird? I just think they were both in the wrong and should have both apologized.

I’m not sure it worked for me. On one hand I’m like, “Ben, it’s a romcom! Let everyone’s dreams come true!” But then I’m like, “Okay, but everything else was messy, so why can’t there be a little something that’s not totally perfect?” I don’t know. It’s not a big turn-off for me, but.

4. If you’re sensitive to infidelity narratives, this might not be the book for you

Jay gets involved with two different guys which bloom into two very different relationships, and although he doesn’t officially enter a relationship with either of them, he doesn’t tell either about the other. This naturally leads to miscommunication. Some of it is because of some bad guidance from a friend, so it’s peak teenage “I haven’t learned how to communicate yet and oops, now I’m realizing I screwed up” messiness. I understood what the plot was trying to do, and I enjoyed reading about it, but it’s certainly not for everyone. Jay isn’t trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or gain some sort of power over anyone, though. Eventually, he realizes what he did wrong and tries to fix it. So it shows that people mess up, especially when they’re new to something, and sometimes two people just need to sit down and talk about what they want out of a relationship.

5. Overall, it’s a very upbeat read.

It’s not the fluffiest read, and it doesn’t claim to be, but Jay’s Gay Agenda definitely has a happy, upbeat vibe to it. Hilarious characters. Sex-positive themes. And very accepting and affirming of these characters as people. There’s only one character that makes any sort of hateful or ignorant comments, and he’s only in the first part of the story. So, as a contemporary fiction story, Jason June writing doesn’t ignore that queerphobia exists to write a happy story; he simply focuses on other parts of queer life for the main plot. So if you’re looking for a low-stakes queer romcom to chill with this June (or any of the other 11 months), Jay’s Gay Agenda is a good one to pick up.

There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.

Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.

From debut novelist Jason June comes a moving and hilarious sex-positive story about the complexities of first loves, first hookups, and first heartbreaks—and how to stay true to yourself while embracing what you never saw coming.

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