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Cristina T.

When I Grow Up (Tales from Foster High)

When I Grow Up (Tales from Foster High) - John  Goode It's been three days since I finished this book, and let me tell you... It gave a whole new meaning to book hangover. I'm so emotionally invested in the Foster gang, that the only books I can stand to read right now are PWPs, and novellas at that.

When I Grow Up was everything I hoped for and more. You see, since I discovered Foster, I've come to expect a healthy dose of reality from these books. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy M/M romance as much as the next person, if not more. But sometimes, what we need is to learn, to be taught valuable lessons about real life. And to get our heads out of the clouds which are made up of fluffy romance books. Well, you know, at least that's how I personally feel.

Now, let's see why I adored this book, and thank God for the Kindle App, 'cause I can literally carry this little jewel around in my pocket at all times! Erm, where was I...? Oh, yes, reasons why I loved this book...

Exhibit A: Characters

Kyle – I've called Kyle a hero before, and I feel the urge to say it again. He's brilliant, and he has the ability to understand what matters in life. Kyle solves problems like no one else, and everyone around him knows what he's capable of. Nonetheless, when it comes down to matters of the heart, Kyle is still a teenager–or young adult, if you will–with his head up his ass.

Brad – Brad is Kyle's rock, he's the one fighting for the relationship tooth and nail. He is underestimated a lot, because people see a gorgeous guy with a killer body when they look at him. Well, Brad is much more than that, and he has a heart of gold.

Robbie – AKA the best thing in the Foster universe–apart from Kyle & Brad, that is. I really, really adore this guy and his love for all things Disney, and his no-nonsense attitude when it comes to his family and friends.

Seb – Can you say freaking awesome?! Seb is Robbie's new boyfriend, and a really cool guy all around. Also, he's pretty smart, and something else I liked was his humor and easy-going attitude.

Tyler – I have never had anything against Tyler, not even because of the mistake of epic proportions he made. Au contraire, I felt for him when the guilt ate at him, and I wanted him to stop punishing himself.

Matt – This guy can be a judgmental asshole, but he has the best intentions, and he tries to protect the people in his life he cares about most.

Jennifer – Funny gal and a good friend. Not much to say about her, but I've always liked her dynamics with the group.

Gayle – Oh. My. God. I don't think I have words to describe this incredible woman. She's kind of the Foster's men tiger mama. Seriously, girl can scratch something fierce when her cubs are in danger.

Ugh, I guess I have to talk about the scum-of-the-earth characters too, eh? Alright, alright.

Billy – Someone should give him an award for 'Worst Dad of the Century'–note: the award should be made of nails, and be handed to Billy by hitting him on his head repeatedly. What?! I sweartoGod he's the worst scumbag crackhead ever!

Troy – Kyle's half brother. I can excuse his behavior, because he hasn't learned any better. And I was glad for him when he decided to turn his life around and make something of himself.

Colt – Major gag! This asshole thinks he's hot shit, except he's so far from it that it's unreal. I could write an essay on why he sucks dirty balls, but I'll just say I hated him with a passion and leave it at that.

Teddy – Hmm. Teddy takes the whole self-righteous asshole act to a whole new level. His holier-than-thou attitude pissed me off, frankly.

Exhibit B: Plot

Warning: You might want to skip this part if you haven't read the book. It's spoilery, just saying...

The short version is this: This book is an emotional roller-coaster with heartbreak, love, life-threatening situations, scumbags, heroes, family, and what it means to grow up. As for the long version...

Part One: new beginnings, relationship problems, and heartache

Kyle gets a scholarship, and he moves with Brad to California. They get an apartment above a Chinese restaurant, and the first weeks are heaven. Sex on every surface, giggles and relaxing, IKEA furniture and the theory of evil Swedish people. Life is good for Kyle & Brad.

But this being real life, things go south, and love is not enough. Kyle wants something and Brad sees things from the opposite perspective. Kyle wants to focus on school, and Brad feels empty and bored. Kyle starts college, and Brad gets a job at a gay gym.

Needless to say, by the end of this part, they both have their heads up their asses, and the relationship seems to be over for good. I was angry at them, frustrated with the situation, just as brokenhearted as the two of them. I just wanted some reprieve and some sunshine for our boys.

Part Two: the past, drama, and humor

I was hoping this part would bring Kyle & Brad back together, but I'm glad that didn't happen. It would have been too fast. Anyway. This part is mainly about Kyle's mom lying in a hospital bed, in need of an surgery Billy the Bastard refuses to sign for.

But this part was also very funny, and every other interaction between all the characters made me laugh hysterically. I enjoyed their conversations and seeing them come to each other's aid like a true family.

Part Three: being a good person, love lessons, and hell

Well, this is when Brad gets dragged back to Texas by Matt, Sebastian and Jennifer. All hell breaks loose at the hospital, there are punches thrown–literally and figuratively–and Tyler and Brad are bad-ass mofos!

Part Four: hope, rekindling love, and bravery

During this chapter, everyone–and I mean everyone–pushes for Brad & Kyle to be together. They have interventions, they give advice, but what it comes down to is everyone seeing what the guys can't. That Brad & Kyle are perfect for each other.

And then there's Kyle, who yet again has a brilliant idea to win his man over. And God, does he execute that idea with bravery. It was epic! What's more, Brad figures out what they need to do in order to work as a couple, and I thought it was the best outcome.

The Three Epilogues: PERFECTION!

One more beautiful than the other, the epilogues took my breath away, and the finale was fan-freaking-tastic!!!

"Wanna spend the rest of our lives together?" he asked, the twinkle in his eyes telling me it was taking all his concentration not to just explode with happiness.
"Thought you'd never ask," I said, putting my arms around him and kissing him hard.

Exhibit C: Life lessons – of which there are many

Lesson #1 – Grown-ups don't have life figured out.

Life sucks and, no matter how old a person is, it never makes sense. There's no instruction manual. Living on your own and paying your own bills isn't going to give you secret knowledge. If you had just admitted you were adult fuck-ups when people like me were kids, then we might be ready for all the crap when we graduated. We'd know there is no magical bullet for our ignorance, just more questions and a lot of improvising. –Kyle

Lesson #2 – The matter of opinions.

"Opinions are just that: opinions. Everyone has one and most of them are wrong."
Neither of us was waiting for the professor anymore. "And people aren't allowed to have opinions?" he asked me.
"Sure, you can have an opinion on whatever you want, but it doesn't make it right, valid, or even interesting. It means it's just something you think. What value does that have?"
"To the person who has it?"
"To anyone but them," I answered back.
–Kyle [with Teddy]

Lesson #3 – What it means to be good.

"Being good is its own reward. You should do good things because it's the right thing to do, not because you think that it will get you brownie points with someone. Doing good things so that God will take your side isn't doing a good thing, it's doing something to get you ahead of others, which is just selfish."
"Horrible things happen, Kyle. It's just that kind of world. Sometimes people do it and sometimes they just happen, but if all you're looking at is the bad stuff you're going to miss the good."
–Father Mulligan

Lesson #4 – Love.

"Love is about taking your time, picking your battles. Knowing when to let the Wookiee win and when to really dig in and fight." –Matt

... I could go on, but I don't mean to copy-paste the entire book into this review. Just rest assured that these are just a few of the many lessons to be taken away from the story ...

Exhibit D: Amazing writing! – this one speaks for itself

John has a subtle way of getting under one's skin. I seriously don't know how he does it, but it happens. You open one of his books and get sucked in. Real life ceases to exist. The world he created holds your entire attention. Now, that's what authors are supposed to do, right? Right. But John... John's talent is of a great magnitude, and his wisdom is of epic proportions.

I'm not even kidding. There are few authors I would read anything from, and fewer books which shape who I am or who I want to become. So, when I say John's books and/or characters mean a lot to me, I don't say that just to hear myself speak. I mean it.

Oops. This review has gotten way out of hand and I wasn't expecting it to be so long. Anyway, I've said my piece, and I definitely could say more, but I'm going to shut up now.

So. Case closed. Judge's order?

Seriously. I promise it's good!