Wednesday 18 May 2022

REVIEW: Gay Club! by Simon James Green

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre:  Contemporary
Release Date: May 5th 2022
Buy the Book: Bear Hunt Books

Barney's a shoo-in for his school's LGBTQ+ Society President at the club's next election. But when the vote is opened up to the entire student body, the whole school starts paying attention. How low will the candidates go to win? Buckle up for some serious shade, scandals and sleazy shenanigans. It isn't long before it's National Coming Out Day - for everyone's secrets!

But when the group faces an expected threat - and a big opportunity - can the club members put politics aside and stand united?

Simon James Green is the award-winning author of a number of beloved LGBTQ+ YA novels, including NOAH CAN'T EVEN, HEARTBREAK BOYS and YOU'RE THE ONE THAT I WANT. Perfect for fans of GLEE, HEARTSTOPPER, and BOYFRIEND MATERIAL
Me, here to yell about how much I love the latest Simon James Green novel? Shocking, I know. As someone who is always screaming from the rooftops about how much I adore Simon’s novels, it’s a surprise to absolutely no one that Gay Club! was one of my most anticipated stories of the year. I immediately dropped everything once my copy popped through the letterbox. 

The concept of having a race for the president of an LGBTQ+ society was something that drew me in as soon as I read the blurb, especially since I’m constantly searching for stories that openly discuss the wide range of sexuality and gender labels. Gay Club! gave me everything I was looking for and more.

Our main character, Barney, is the definition of a cinnamon roll. I admired his determination to make everyone feel part of something, and his speeches throughout the story completely warmed my heart. The back and forth between Barney’s competitor, Bronte, and one of his best friends, Maya, provided the lovers-to-enemies-to-reluctantly-working-together trope that I needed. Bronte and Barney’s race for president lead the humour-filled drama in the first half of the story.

Danny Orlando was a particular favourite character of mine. As the popular footballer in the school, I adored his more complicated journey throughout the story and felt so proud of him by the final chapter. He’s a perfect example of how confusing it is to figure out who you are and what you stand for.

  • TWISTS AND TURNS. When I say I couldn’t predict a single thing in this story, I mean it! I genuinely had no idea what wild and hilarious event would occur next.
  • CHARACTERS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH. These characters are going to stay with me for a long time. It’s impossible not to love their friendship group. Where’s my squad who cooks food for each other during weekly movie nights?
  • IMPORTANT MOMENTS. Whilst Gay Club! is filled with the comedy writing we’ve come to expect from Simon, there are scenes that provide a harsh reminder of how far we still have go when it comes to acceptance. There’s a particular scene during a game of football that broke my heart because it’s all too real for so many young queer people.

I can’t stress enough how important stories like this one are in helping young people to feel like they belong. My expectations were high, and yet it still managed to go above and beyond! With such a fun cast of characters and packed full of inspiring messages, Gay Club! is easily my favourite read of the year so far.

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