My request for this on Netgalley went unanswered for so long that I began to worry it was going to be denied, but I am soooo glad it wasn’t! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. One Man Guy is such a great coming of age and coming out story. Michael Barakiva has done a fantastic job showing how difficult it is for teenagers (gay or straight) raised in a traditional family (no matter what those traditions might be) to forge their own path without alienating their loved ones.
While the blurb touts this as a humorous tale not unlike My Big Fat Greek Wedding or any of the works of David Sedaris, I did not read it that way. I felt the story was much more serious than that. To me, Alek was very relatable because his family traditions and his parents’ expectations were very suffocating and restrictive. He was a boy who couldn’t even discover himself because of the limitations his family put on his freedoms, whether they were academic, extracurricular or self-expression. He had no room to grow.
Watching Alek come into himself was like watching a flower denied sun for too long finally blooming and spreading its petals to the world around it. Barakiva really captured the imperfections of one’s first serious relationship: the awkwardness and fights, the mistakes and making up. Alek fumbled his way through his emotions and his misperceptions just like anyone finding love for the first time would do. Everything about his relationship with Ethan rang true. I really enjoyed this read and look forward to more from Michael Barakiva.
Farrar Strauss Giroux Publishing – May 27, 2014