Title: One Man Guy.
Author: Michael Barakiva.
Source: Netgalley, for Review.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Published Date: 5/27/14.
"Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again."
To be honest, what caught my attention from this book, was the beautiful yellow cover! It's so bright, bold and different...just like the story inside. And again, to be honest, I had no idea what this one was about. I mean there are some obvious clues, such as the title, and the cover, but no way did I think there would be so much culture, family and coming of age aspects in this story.
Alek is only fourteen years old, and like all the kids his age, is learning about himself, and the person he really is. Because Alek's family is very old school traditional Armenian, Alek is pushed to focus on traditions, and school (rather than his favorite sport, tennis) even if it means skipping the family vacation, staying home by himself and going to summer school.
It's not like he's failing, but his mom wants him to remain on the honor track...But most of the kids attending summer school, aren't in the same position that Alek is in, but instead are attending to refrain from failing or being held back a year.
The Drop Outs are a group of those kids; also known as the DOs....and one of them catches Alek's eye. He really isn't sure what the feeling is in his stomach when he's around Ethan, but Alek can't stop thinking about him. So much so, that he even forgets that he had plans with his best friend.
Alek is never to go into the city, unless his parents are there or a different chaperon. But when Ethan pulls him onto the train, Alek can't deny that he is having a good time, and would want to do it again soon.
Within the week that his parents and brother are at school, Alek is becoming closer and closer to Ethan; skipping school and going into the city. And things get a little bit rough and awkward between him and his best friend.
But soon Alek's week of freedom comes to an end, when his parents and brother walk in on Alek getting close to Etahn. Alek's parents' expectations are much too high and impossible to reach, especially in this day in age. And they begin to realize that towards the end of the story.
I've never read anything comparable to One Man Guy, and at first wasn't sure what I would think, or if I would even be able to relate to any of the characters. But while I'm a straight, nineteen year old German girl, spending most of her days watching Top Gear with her boyfriend, going to college, and now working at a coffee shop, I couldn't feel any closer to Alek.
I'm not Armenian, but my parents (who are full German) are very traditional. The house always has to be clean when guests come. No shoes in the house, too many germs. Girls should know how to cook and clean, even if they have a job or career. Traditional German food on any special holiday....and those are just to name a few.
And while most of my friends are "these Americans" (...if you've read the book, you know I'm just joking) I don't really see these strict traditional aspects. The only time I ever see them is in my own home, or in my boyfriend's Hispanic household, and to me that's normal. But reading One Man Guy, it gave me this outside look on what it must look like to other people.
ANYWAYS, the worry of not being able to connect to the main character, Alek, was quickly washed away when his culture and family was brought into the story. Loved it!
Besides that I also really liked the relationship Alek had with his older brother Nik. Alek was obviously, a little more rebellious, and Nik was trying to live up to all the expectations their parents had. I liked seeing this comparison, both were happy, but also both were under this constant pressure to do what they're parents would want them to.
Overall I really enjoyed One Man Guy, and would truly recommend it to anyone. Especially if you're looking for something refreshing, different and new!