This review originally appeared in slightly different form at New Adult Book Reviews.
As Lewis moves into his university housing to start his first year of college, he meets his new roommates. There's the loud jock Dean, Andreas, Rob, and then there's Max. Openly gay Max confuses Lewis, awakening feelings that he has never acknowledged before. He and Max become good friends, and Lewis is prepared to come out, as well as tell Max how he feels, but then Max gets into a relationship of his own, so Lewis resolves not to interfere.
Things get even more complicated when Max breaks up with his boyfriend, giving Lewis a chance to express how he feels. On top of his love life, there's coming out to his parents for Lewis to deal with, and his parents have a few surprises of their own for him. All-in-all, Lewis have a very eventful first term at college.
“Not Just Friends” is a bittersweet coming-out story that might strike a familiar chord with many readers. What makes this book a slight cut above most others is the focus on realistic characters, with a light touch on the angst. Several books on this subject tend to over-do the angst almost anyone in Lewis' position might feel, often making the reader lose interest in them, but in this case it's just right. Lewis has doubts, for sure, but we aren't plunged into a well of indecisiveness in this case. He tries to deal with the situations that are dealt to him, even if his heart really isn't in it. Max is a little more or a mystery, but as the book is told from Lewis' point of view, that's as it should be.
While the overall story is rather sweet, this is not one of those plots where everything goes our hero's way. As the blurb suggests, there is a lot of other things for Lewis to overcome before he can find happiness with the one he has fallen so desperately in love with, and that adds greatly to the realism of the characters.
For all it's charm, “Not Just Friends” is not a very deep book. If you identify with the characters, which many people will, you will almost certainly find this story pleasing, but it's unlikely to stick with you for very long. This is a book about one young man's personal journey to discovering one aspect of his true self, which is very good, but it is not necessarily going to give you anything in particular to think about.
“Not Just Friends” is available from Amazon.