Friends Like These

althea-and-oliver_612x913I really like the cover for Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho.  We should have more yellow books.

I’m going to try to start out every post by saying something nice if I can come up with something.  Not that this book was terrible–I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t an act of pure torture like DUFF.

Althea and Oliver are prototypical YA friends–a boy and girl that aren’t complete losers but not technically in the ‘in crowd,’ right on the cusp of ‘will they or won’t they,’ being raised by single parents (his a hipster widow, hers a bourbon-soaked professor).

They have done everything together since the age of six, and even look alike, skinny white kids with blonde hair and the same height.

Senior year of high school and Oliver has developed an unusual malady.  He falls asleep.  Not just in a narcoleptic way–but in a coma-type way.  At any moment, Oliver may become comatose mid-sentence, and stay that way for months.

Obviously this puts a cramp in Althea’s social life, being that she is the angsty, angry-at-the-world type and relies on Oliver to drag her to parties and listen to her complain in the corner.  As he goes under more and more, she begins to spend more time with a few of his other friends, a pair of vegan punk rock Christians and a ne’er do well named [dammit I can’t remember his name.  Some white trash dude].  And when Oliver is awake, Althea makes up for it by driving him to Waffle House, moshing to bad rock shows, and lusting after him.

Even though Oliver is aware that Althea is a girl and vaguely sexy in her own way, he’s Just Not That Into Her, though not above giving her the ole side-eye and maybe a make-out sesh once in a while (which is a shitty thing to do to your best friend Oliver).

One of the side affects of Oliver’s mythical condition is that sometimes he wakes up without really coming back to himself, i.e. he acts like a lunatic with an anger problem.  This can be embarrassing for Althea, like when he throws the syrup against the wall and screams at her in the Waffle House.  Or it can just be creepy as hell, like when he ‘wakes up’ when Althea goes to check on him in his room, and they end up having rough sex that he doesn’t remember.

That’s pretty much what threw me off about this book.  Having sex with someone who isn’t able to consent is a shitty thing to do Althea.  In fact, we can all agree that would be classified as rape.  And if the roles were reversed and Oliver did this to Althea in the novel, I doubt it would have gotten published (or if it was, I think a few reviewers would mention that there’s nothing romantic about being raped when you’re basically in a coma).

But it’s never presented that way in this book.  Althea does eventually tell Oliver that he already lost his virginity, and they have a falling out over it, but when the inevitably make up towards the end of the novel, even though they decide they would never make a workable couple and that there friendship needs to stretch as they basically go there separate ways…they have sex again.  Like as a goodbye.

Maybe YA Lit is why teenagers have such effed up ideas about sex.  Because THATS NOT NORMAL OR HEALTHY YA’LL.

So in conclusion, don’t be raping your friends.  And don’t be having sex with folks you’ve already decided to be friends with.  That’s just a recipe for horrible complications and hurt feelings.

And felonies.


About rhymenocerous

rhymenocerous combines a fondness for hip hop with her love of the serengeti. Her soft spot for kids in space is eclipsed only by her passion for time-travelling children. She eats too much cake and frequently pretends her dachshund speaks French. View all posts by rhymenocerous

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