For Love of: Tangi by Antonio

TANGI
For Love of: Tangi by Antonio
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (218 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Colt Asbury’s life was good. He was captain of the football team in high school, popular with his classmates, and adored by his family. The only thing missing was someone special to share it with. But, between football and schoolwork he didn’t really have much time to think about romance—no that wasn’t exactly the whole truth. He had thought about it, and decided he wasn’t ready to deal with the ramifications of being gay. But, sometimes things can bubble to the surface in unexpected ways. In just a few minutes Colt’s whole world changes when he accidentally outs himself in front of his homeroom class over a new male student named Tangiers (Tangi) Reynolds. Suddenly he’s the talk of the school, yet all he can think about is Tangi. He’d never felt anything like what he felt when he’d first laid eyes on auburn-haired, green-eyed Tangi.

Still, it’s all too much for someone whose held so much in for so long and it takes its toll on Colt physically and emotionally. Confused and feeling broken down, he tries to find someone he can turn to, but discovers his best friend Mickey has turned against him. The rest of Colt’s friends aren’t even sure what to think about him anymore. His ex-football hero dad, whom he idolizes, and his ex-cheerleader mom are acting strangely too, and it turns out they’ve been hiding a closely guarded secret of their own. A secret shared by some of the parents of Colt’s friends. It will take the help of his younger brother Neil and Tangi’s sister Zen as well as allies in unexpected places to aid Colt in his time of greatest need. And then, there’s still the homecoming dance to think about, a homophobic chaperone to deal with, and a mystery man named Cameron. Will Colt be able to navigate these once calm now troubled waters of his life? More importantly will he be able to embrace a life with Tangi? All he knows is that he’ll give it his best shot for love of Tangi.

Coming out doesn’t usually happen all at once. It’s a process that begins when one finally admits the truth to himself and ends when everyone knows. The question is, what other secrets will Colt uncover as he begins to come out to his family and friends?

At first Colt seemed a little too good to be true. He’s a popular jock who fearlessly stands up for other kids when they’re being bullied, an affectionate big brother to his much younger siblings, and a son who idolizes his parents. What I appreciated most about this character, though, was what happened when he revealed his true self. Colt is most definitely a nice guy, but I fully warmed up to him once I realized what was going through his mind as he did all of these kind things. The image people project is often quite different from what’s going on behind the scenes. Getting to know who Colt is when no one else around is ultimately what made me like him so much.

The dialogue in this book was inconsistent. One moment the characters would speak in full, grammatically correct sentences. A paragraph or two later the same individual would reply with a shortened version of a single word. Many people adjust their speaking patterns based on who is around them, of course, but it was jarring to switch so rapidly between slang and conversations that felt a little too stilted given the ages of the people involved in them. It was just as likely to occur with the teenagers as it was with adult characters.

The chemistry between Colt and Tangi is strong. The first taste of love is often the sweetest, and I found their reactions to their growing attraction to one another to be perfect for guys their age. It was fun to see how both of them responded to their first meeting. I can’t say much more about it without giving away spoilers, but it was quite the memorable experience.

I was surprised to see how reluctant the teachers were to address the bullying at Colt’s school given that this story is set in present day. It would have been understandable for them to ignore vague rumours or not notice the subtle stuff, but their refusal to even do something as obvious as break up a fight on school grounds didn’t feel realistic to me. I don’t doubt that some adults are willing to look the other way when a student is teased because of his sexual orientation, but I found it hard to believe that multiple teachers would be willing to ignore such blatant signs of harassment given how easy it would be for someone to record their behavior with a cellphone and get them and the school into serious trouble.

My favorite scenes involved Colt and and Tangi’s families. Both boys have warm, loving relationships with their parents and younger siblings. Neither family is perfect, of course, but I enjoyed seeing how they worked together. It was particularly interesting to see what happens when the families get together for dinner.

For Love of: Tangi made me think about all of the assumptions I’ve made about other people. This is a good choice for anyone who is willing to step into someone else’s shoes for a little while.

Comments

  1. Interesting YA cover

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