#FridayReads: Bad Boy, by Elliot Wake

This past week I devoured Elliot Wake’s latest, Bad Boy. As usual, I stayed up late just so I could finish and man was it worth it.

I’ve been on a queer #OwnVoices fic kick lately. Not really on purpose—aside from the lesfic—but reading books featuring queer characters by queer authors feels like coming home, to me. There’s a big part of me that worries about losing my queerness because I married a dude. And I know, I need to shake that shit—especially because I’m the one always telling my lady bi friends that being with a guy doesn’t make them any less queer. Plus… I’m kind of a little rainbow-lonely in IRL. I live in a small town. Most of my LGBTQIA+ friends live in the city or have long moved on to bigger and better places. Not that you need queer friends in your immediate area to be queer. It’s just that I feel the hole in my life where my high school rainbow gang used to be when conversations like “What is pan?” and “You’re married; you can’t be queer!” come up with my straight cis friends and family.

Sometimes I just wanna be around people who get it. Who get me.

Anyway.

Bad Boy.

I highlighted a lot in this book. I nodded so many times while reading. I also learned much about how men process emotions, thanks to Ren. Even without the plot, Bad Boy is a good read. It explores what it means to be a feminist man, and what it means to be a man in general. It’s not about which “bits”—as my favorite robot Mr. Pendulum would say—you’ve got.

I also loved the line about how every touch from a woman is a communication, a question. As usual, Elliot Wake knocks it out of the park with his prose. Each sentence is a true delicacy.

The plot is fast-paced, though, so I took lots of breaks to just let things sink in. Especially because the main character Ren is a survivor of rape, and he must confront the “man” who raped him. I don’t think there are any triggering scenes, per se, but every time the subject comes up I’m going to be automatically thinking about my own experiences. Bad Boy truly highlights how completely it can shatter a person.

Bad Boy also carries a common thread through Black Iris and Cam Girl.

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

This is one of those books that will stay with me, that I’ll keep thinking about long after I’ve finished.

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5 Secret Strengths in Being a Wallflower

When you think of strong female characters, the loud and outspoken girls like Katniss are the ones who spring to mind—not quiet and introverted girls like my Sade. There’s a certain strength in being a wallflower, though. I didn’t know that during my teen years when I was all big eyes and closed lips, soaking in everything around me but being powerless to stop it. Silence is often interpreted as weakness, but it’s also the quiet ones who have the coolest secret strengths.

We See and Hear Everything

People either don’t notice us or don’t interpret our presence as threatening, so they tend to bare all within earshot. Or they’ll walk right up to us and spill their darkest secrets as if we’re old friends. Since we’re introverts, we don’t usually abuse this information, but we know that it might come in handy later.

We’re also the ones who will find your lost earring or notice that you left your coffee pot on before we head out with you. We make great artists, counselors, detectives and, of course, friends.

We Give Great Advice

Because we’ve almost literally seen and heard it all, we’re able to give close to qualified advice on almost everything. Having boyfriend troubles? We know what to do. Don’t know where your fifth period class is? We’ve got that covered too. We know the ins and outs of a wide variety of subjects, including many useless things as well.

We Master Skills Quickly

We’re super observant, so we pick things up fast. Show us once or twice, and we’ll take it from there. We often come up with systems, too, getting it done more efficiently. Introverts have a lot of interests and are really good at many different things.

We are Walking Lyrics Traps

Not only can we remember this morning’s lecture—or at least take detailed notes—but we also have a bad habit of memorizing every single song ever. Including the really bad ones. Especially those.

We often have photographic memories and can tell you the exact shade of our childhood bedroom walls. Or how many streaks were in our favorite Barbie doll’s hair. Ask us to compare dresses from store to store in the mall, and we don’t even need to take a pic with our phones.

We Make People Feel Better

We put people at ease with our presence alone. We’re good listeners and friends feel comfortable talking to us. Even though we often feel like we didn’t do anything to help, just being there is more than enough. It’s also not too draining on us, so it’s a win/win.

Being a wallflower is pretty kick-ass, if you ask me.


Save her friendship, or save her best friend…

Shy girl Sade just wants to get through sophomore year without her moms grounding her or her little brother converting her to his newfound religion. But when her best friend Jackie starts acting weirder than everyone in her family combined, Sade discovers there are just some secrets she can’t keep.

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Kick Ass Girls of YA

We’re celebrating kick-ass girls all month long with a blog hop and other events. Check out the events schedule, then stop by the other blogs in the hop!