Skip to main content

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales: YA Book Review


Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Overview: Will and Ollie have a magical summer at the lake in North Carolina. The summer is where their budding romance ends, though, because Ollie lives in California. To his surprise, though, at the end of the summer, Ollie's parents announce they'll be staying in North Carolina to help his Aunt Linda who has cancer. Ollie is shocked to discover that Will actually goes to his new school too. The only problem? Will's not out yet, and he doesn't seem to be headed down that path any time soon. Ollie is continually confused by Will's confusion over whether he wants to pick up where they left off at the lake, and navigating their sorta-maybe-kinda relationship proves to be a lot when he also has to learn a new school, find friends, and babysit his little cousins every day after school. While the move was the last thing Ollie wanted, there's a chance it could be for the best. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I immediately clicked with Ollie. Like Darcy in Sophie's sophomore novel, Perfect on Paper, Ollie is extremely witty and sarcastic and smart. He's exactly the kind of person I want to hang out with for ten days straight. He has the perfect mix of cynicism and romanticism, and he's good at seeing situations for what they are. Ollie has been out for a while, and though he gets teased plenty at his new school, he's good at brushing it off. He's navigating a lot of change at once, but he's good at compartmentalizing all of it. I was surprised at how much his exploration of his own grief and the grief of those around him later in the book effected me, but we had extremely similar thought processes, and he made me feel very seen. I also liked how in his complication relationship with Will, Ollie was able to recognize that even though Will didn't mean to hurt him, he could still be treating him in a way that isn't acceptable. 

Will is not as confident in his identity. His friends make constant gay jokes, and he's not sure if he'll be accepted by his parents. His fear of being out, though, does lead him to treat Ollie horribly- leading him on and then dumping him to the curb whenever he gets scared. Will's main arc rests on him grappling with that and handling it better sometimes than others. You can tell Will has a good heart, but he's a prime example of how teenagers can be so crappy without meaning to be.

This book actually has quite a full world of fleshed out characters. Will and Ollie's friends naturally blend because Will's basketball teammates happen to have crushes on the girls Ollie is friends with. Juliette is a gifted clarinet player who is driven to get into conservatory (MINI SPOILER: she doesn't ultimately succeed in this and has to brainstorm a back-up plan towards what she wants which I think is so important to show in stories about senior year). Nimah wants to become a model and is having success with it. She deals with a lot of stigma over being plus sized and wanting to pursue that career path, and she also leads a super candid (and important!) conversation about the realities of living with PCOS. Finally, there's Lara who, like Will, is on a journey based in getting conformable with her sexuality. She bottles a lot of her confusion into hostility, and I thought her friendship that evolves with Ollie was really great to see since they don't get started on the best foot. Both Will and Lara are bi, and seeing the other's parallel story seems to help a lot. 

Finally, there's Ollie's family. We don't get to know his parents or his uncle very well, but he spends plenty of time babysitting his cousins and helping Aunt Linda. This part of the book dealt very heavily in grief, loving someone who you know you will lose, and how different people grieve. Aunt Linda is very important to Ollie and has always been a big supporter of him. The kids both have very distinct personalities, and it shows a lot about Ollie how carefully he cares for them. I was not expecting this element of the story from the way that it was pitched, so definite warning about that. You definitely have to be in the right place to approach this book. 

Plot: 5 I was totally engaged through the entire story. Having so many plot lines running at once made Ollie's world feel like it could be walked through and completely explored. Sophie did a great job of balancing all of these threads and making them intermingle in important ways. There's a little bit of everything going on, and it felt so realistic to what it was like to be a teenager in 2019. 

One thing that Sophie does extremely well is that she fleshes out every single character so much you genuinely care about them the right amounts for the plot to truly effect you. She made Will treat Ollie horribly at times but made his confusion come through so much that you never stopped caring about Will or started hoping they wouldn't work out. We get to know Aunt Linda and her family well in a short period of time so we're invested in what happens there. I did cry towards the end of the book briefly. There wasn't a point of time that I lost interest, which is honestly rare these days with how much I have going on. 

I also wanted to say that I love how Sophie wrapped up the story with where everyone was going to college or planning on doing next. Even if they were brief mentions, she showed plans working out and plans not quite working. She gave examples of characters getting what they thought they wanted and changing their minds. It's okay to make your plan B your plan A. It felt extremely realistic to what I experienced and what a lot of my friends went through, and that's honestly rare in YA, so I wanted to shout it out. 

Writing: 5 I love Sophie's voice. It's one of the strongest I've seen in YA. I didn't originally pick this one up because all the promo I'd seen around it talked about it being like Grease or almost like a Grease retelling, and I could not stand Grease, so I just avoided it. A few months ago, I read Perfect on Paper because it's summary basically summed up my dream book and it did end up being my dream book. Since this was out in paperback, I figured I'd give it a try. I'm so glad I got over my initial hesitation. Her writing is truly fantastic, and the way she handles plot and characters is unmatched. I also love how her books always capture a range of queer identities and talk about the nuance of them and different experiences under the umbrella of being LGBTQIA. I love seeing such full ensemble casts that all learn from and support each other. If you've liked one of her books, I highly recommend you pick up the others because you won't be disappointed. Sophie is definitely one of my auto-buy authors now.

More From Sophie Gonzales...

Perfect on Paper

Into YA with Sophie Gonzales

More on Reading, Writing, and Me:

Counting Down With You

YA You Need To Read May 2021

It's Kind of A Cheesy Love Story


Popular posts from this blog

Once Upon a Quinceañera

Once Upon a Quinceañera   by Monica Gomez-Hera Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC so I could share my honest thoughts with all of you! Overview: Carmen hasn't graduated high school, even though it's the summer after senior year. When her senior project fell through, Carmen has to scramble to complete the project over the summer. That means no college (not that she applied) and no future plans beyond becoming a Dream (floating around in a Belle costume at children's parties) with her best friend Waverley. So maybe it's not the summer Carmen wanted, but it's fine. At least until her ex-boyfriend who ruined everything, Mauro, also shows up on the team and then they get assigned to work her nemesis and younger cousin's quinceañera, which becomes the big event of the summer. Nothing ever quite goes to plan for Carmen, does it? Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I enjoyed hanging out with Carmen for a while. She's super witty and cynical in a way that I

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Olivia Rodrigo'a SOUR As YA Books: Track By Track

This list turned out to be much harder to make than I anticipated when I came up with the idea last week. I set out to match songs to SOUR because what goes better with an album written by a 17/18 year old than YA books, but it turns out that YA books are just too hopeful for this album. Unlike many of these songs, I couldn't find books where the characters ended the book totally despondent and broken up. It took a bit of brainstorming, but I think I found a book to match the essence of each SOUR track. Le me know in the comments which songs on SOUR are your favorite. Mine are "brutal", "favorite crime", "deja vu", and "jealousy, jealousy".  1. "brutal" : War and Speech   by Don Zolidis War and Speech just radiates the same badass, discontented with teenage life energy as "brutal". This was the first book that popped into my mind when I thought about making this post. Just look at the cover. Sydney's life has been fa

What's on my YA TBR: September 2021 Edition

September is always a magical, busy time in bookland because there are always a million books releasing to get ready for the holiday rush. That's how this list wound up featuring 7 books. There are a couple like Never Saw You Coming  and As If On Cue  that I've had my eyes on for almost a year, and then there are some new discoveries that I'm super super excited about. From heartfelt contemporaries to K-Pop to a musical anthology and a summer camp of animators, there's something for everyone on this list. I haven't been this excited about a TBR of books in a while, and I'm sad that with starting school, it'll probably take me a while to get through them, but I'm hoping my local library will pick up copies soon. Speaking of which, I have tons of new libraries to explore around campus! As always, I want to make it as easy as possible to preorder these books and connect with the authors who wrote them! If you click the link in the title of each book, it wil

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

My First Time Trying a Book Box: Literati Luminary Book Club Review

I am incredibly excited for today's blog posts because I'm working with Literati to share my experience with their Luminary Book Club. If you've been keeping up with my posts, I recently talked about how book clubs are an amazing way to fend off a reading slump, especially when life gets super hectic, and even with a super long TBR, I've still felt lost when I go to pick out my next read. I'm so grateful to Literati for sending me a book box and sponsoring this post!  On top of feeling stuck with choosing what to read, I've also been trying to explore more genres and the world outside of YA. YA has been my home base for so long that I always get overwhelmed trying to figure out what I want to read in other genres. Luckily, Literati had just what I needed. I got the chance to choose from 13 different book clubs all curated by Luminaries who are amazing, award winning writers, thought leaders, and artists you most definitely know like Malala and her Fearless cl

Fresh by Margot Wood: YA Book Review

  Fresh  by Margot Wood Get a Copy (this is an affiliate link. purchasing through this bookshop link helps support indie bookstores and this blog at no cost to you) Overview: Elliot isn't really sure why she's going to college. It's the next step that people take in life, I guess. She also isn't sure why she's at Emerson. It sounded better than Ohio State. She has no plan, no clue and how to approach college life. Quickly, Elliot gets sucked into a whirlwind of all the worst college tropes- the endless cereal bar, hooking up with everyone in the Little Building, not paying attention in any of her that classes she doesn't really want to be in anyway... the list goes on. She quickly forms a tight group of friends on her floor, but even those connections get tested as the year progresses. Eventually, Elliot is forced to realize that she needs to care about the academic side of college, and she craves closer connections than a trail of hook ups. Elliot, like most co

Weekly Book Reviews and Recommendations: Week 5

This week has been a bit crazy. With a four day weekend because of Easter, I thought I'd get some extra reading done. Lo and behold, that's not exactly what happened. I was way busier than I thought I'd be, but better late than never, I guess. Anyway, I read three great books this week that were all very different but also very good in their own rights. "You Matter" 1) Girl In Pieces  by Kathleen Glasgow (406 pages)  This book was so beautiful and amazing that I had to write a Standout Review for it. I published that earlier in the week, and you can check it out here: P.S. I Still Love You  by Jenny Han (337 pages) Overview:   P.S. I Still Love You  is the second installment of Jenny Han's YA series. (You can check out my review of the first book To All The Boys I've Loved Before  here:

You'd Be Home By Now by Kathleen Glasgow: YA Book Review

  You'd Be Home By Now  by Kathleen Glasgow  I'm very thankful to the publisher for providing me with this ARC to share my honest thoughts on this book with all of you. Overview: Emory has always been the good one. The nice one. The easy one. The invisible one. Her older sister, Maddie, is gorgeous and talented. Her older brother, Joey, is struggling with addiction issues, and her parents saddle Emory with the responsibility of being his forever babysitter. No one thinks about Emory- ever. Which leads her to pick up a habit of stealing and collecting small things and hooking up with the high school baseball star next door to feel seen and important. While Joey is stuck on the rollercoaster of his addiction, his family is right there behind him, and as Emory struggles to keep Joey stable, she's also left to contend with her own precariously okay life. Overall: 5+ Characters: 5 Emory is maybe the most universally relatable teen character in YA. She feels unheard and unseen by