"When Everything Feels Like The Movies" by Raziel Reid

Who Should Read This: Someone looking for a young LGBT voice in literature.

Sometimes life is just like the movies.  In the case of Jude Rothesay, sometimes it’s better to imagine that life is a movie rather than deal with the reality of it.  

Jude is a gay teenager, something that doesn’t go over well in his small-town, especially at school.  He celebrates who he is but others around him don’t, and this results in horrific bullying both at school and home.  Along with his best friend Angela, he remains an outcast.  But Jude knows that he is destined for fame, he just needs to get to Hollywood.  Until that day comes, he lives his life as though he’s already there, even if the public can’t see what makes him so special.

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid is a young adult novel that takes on the very adult issues many young people are facing today.

There is a lot to be said about this book and I don’t even know how I’m going to say it.  First off, I wouldn’t have picked up this book if it wasn’t a Canada Reads finalist.  Mostly because I probably wouldn’t have heard of it otherwise, also because I don’t read much young adult.  Before I began reading it, I came across a lot of talk online about the type of book it is, whether it is too much for young adults, and whether or not it should have been awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature.  This definitely got my interest up.

I had so many hesitations while reading this book but that doesn’t mean that it’s not an important read.  The voice of gay and transgender teens is one that needs to be available in books for young people who need to see themselves in the media, as well as the people around them who need to understand what they are facing.  But is this the kind of book they need to read?  Ugh, I don’t know.

My first thought was, this can’t be what teenage life is like these days.  I get it, I’m old.  But I’m not THAT far removed from teenage-hood.  I remember the bullying, drugs, sex, and sexuality issues.  But is it so much more predominant these days?  I found it very difficult to believe that the characters in this book are middle school age.  That would make them, what, 13 at the most?  It was just too excessive to make it believable to me.  My husband teaches high school and he hears all sorts of stories but this books blows them out of the water.  I would love to hear what others think about this aspect of the book.

This won’t be a book for everyone.  I always make it clear that I really don’t like swearing in books because I think it’s unnecessary.  So yes, it got to me in this book.  But I also get that that is how teenagers speak.  I don’t like gratuitous or unnecessary sex but I also get that that is an issue for teenagers.  

I can’t say that I liked the book but I can’t say that I didn’t like the book.  This is a hard review to write.  I found the ending to be very powerful even though it felt like it was wrapping up one big long buildup in a very quick manner.  But this book is tackling a very important subject and I give a lot of credit to it for that.  I think that if Jude’s story was tackled in a different manner (less of the movie theme, more getting to the deep feelings of Jude and others around him) it would have been a stellar book. But at least this book will get a very important conversation going.


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