I received this book for free from Scholastic Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 14 years of age due to its use of language, mental illness, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
{Vanilla: Billy Merrell}Vanilla by Billy Merrell
Published by Scholastic Press on October 10, 2017
Genres: LBGTQ, Poetry, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Scholastic Press
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{Synopsis} – A bold, groundbreaking novel about coming out, coming into your own, and coming apart.

Hunter and Van become boyfriends before they’re even teenagers, and stay a couple even when adolescence intervenes. But in high school, conflict arises — mostly because Hunter is much more comfortable with the sex part of sexual identity. As the two boys start to realize that loving someone doesn’t guarantee they will always be with you, they find out more about their own identities — with Hunter striking out on his own while Van begins to understand his own asexuality.

In poems that are romantic and poems that are heartbreaking, Vanilla explores all the flavors of the spectrum — and how romance and love aren’t always the same thing.

{My thoughts} – When I started reading this book I walked into it with a sort of expectation. I assumed it would be mushy and I probably would have zero interest in finishing it. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It did take me until halfway through the book to want to find out the outcome though. A warning that it truly has a slow build up.

Vanilla and Hunter have been friend since Middle School. They’d been exploring their sexual identity throughout that time period through to nearly the end of High School. They had their ups and downs but remained together as a couple for the most part throughout it all.

They had the same small circle of friends. Some that completely understood them and some that didn’t. They had the support of their parents for the most part allow when their parents are discussed it seems they only supported to ensure that the two boys were happy. However, that’s a better outcome then most would o could expect.

Towards the end of the book I was back to wondering why I was still reading, but it did have a nice little story wrapped up in its pages. I found some of it to appear realistic and logical, whereas, other parts I was thinking I don’t think that’s really how it would work out in real life. The truth is honestly I don’t know how it would work out, but to me it just seemed too simple within the pages of the book.

I recommend this book for anyone questioning their identity, for anyone that enjoys poetry and for anyone that is simply curious about how things could be if things were viewed differently for them.

{Quotes I Enjoyed} –
{01} – They’re known throughout the school as The Gang. They aren’t violent. They don’t hurt anyone or break anything – other than hearts. But they’re bullies, plain and simple, even if not the obvious kind.
{02} – Maybe that’s what love is, though: taking on a little of another person’s perspective and holding true to it.
{03} – She says they aren’t only metaphors if he uses them over and over, instead they’re windows into his soul. Everything Hunter volunteers about his dad, his home life, is curated, I realize. Typed out, cleaned up. Deemed ready to be read. If the poems have windows, they only show what he wants me to see.
{04} – Love me, I thought as I rode off, and I’ll make a goal of making every day of your life a little better than the last.
{05} – I feel like a shape-shifter, telling each new man a different lie. A fact-finding mission, to see which disguise is most appetizing.
{06} – Normal people don’t care about anybody but themselves, and they certainly don’t care about me, and they certainly don’t read poems.
{07} – “I’m reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou. The poet,” I say, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Final Conclusion: 5 Star Rating.