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Christina Lauren introduces AUTOBOYOGRAPHY, her first YA novel filled with the tales of friendship, high school and young love.

Tanner is an out bisexual teen, comfortable in his San Francisco town with a supportive and loving family having his back. Then, after a family move to PROVO, Utah, he is forcibly pushed back into the closet, due to the abundance of the Mormon families in the town. Still, after two years living in his new home, Tanner has become accustomed to his new life --- until his best friend, Autumn, convinces him to take The Seminar in the last semester of his senior year.

The Seminar, a long sought-after course, challenges determined students to complete an entire novel in a semester, a feat Tanner is convinced he’ll be able to compete with ease. All goes according to plan --- until Sebastian Brother, local Seminar celebrity, is revealed to be a TA in his class. Immediately smitten, Tanner can’t force himself to stay away from Sebastian, despite his Mormon beliefs and minister father. Balancing his growing passion for Sebastian as his ever-approaching novel deadline nears, Tanner is forced to come to terms with who he wants to be, and find happiness through it all.

"AUTOBOYOGRAPHY is an amazing novel....Fans of SIMON VS THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli will especially find joy in reading this heart-wrenching contemporary."

Lauren combines the authenticity of being a bisexual teenager with the Tanner’s individual life and personality providing the perfect character who I couldn’t help but support. The realistic portrayal of each character from Autumn, Sebastian and even his parents projected the autobiographical idea that couldn’t have been portrayed in any other method. Everything from the dialogue, to Tanner’s inner consciousness, to specific details the author included provides the sense that every word was appearing from Tanner’s thoughts by themselves. I couldn’t help but be pulled in, consistently struck by the raw emotion poured into each page.

One of the biggest surprises in this novel was the inclusion and importance of the Mormon religion consistently as the story went on. Most YA stories decline to include religion, but this was a huge issue pertaining to homosexuality, yet also Sebastian’s overwhelming passion for the church. I learned so much about the religion in reading, which allowed me to relate to both Tanner and Sebastian’s unique situations in conforming to the will of the church while being honest about who they are. This is still such a real issue, that most people don’t think about often, and including it made the book not only more interesting, but opened up a new world to the basic plot.

Countless times in young adult fiction, authors will force a romance, making it seem rushed and unreal, but Lauren did the exact opposite. I became invested in the Tanner and Sebastian as they began to fall in love, feeling for their emotions every step of the way. Filled with the fire of young romance, and the innocence of the world that can only be portrayed by a teenager, I couldn’t help but understand the realism and support in their journey.

Overall, AUTOBOYOGRAPHY is an amazing novel, and I would recommend it to teens who enjoy realistic fiction, or want to get out of their comfort zone. Fans of SIMON VS THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli will especially find joy in reading this heart-wrenching contemporary.

Reviewed by on November 16, 2017

by Christina Lauren