Be Straight With Me by: Emily Dalton ~ Audio Book Review

During her sophomore year at Middlebury College, Emily meets Max—“you” as she intimately refers to him in the book. Not exactly a tomboy, but not quite a girly girl either, Emily is intent on finding a masculine boyfriend to assuage a deeply rooted fear that she may not be quite feminine enough. Max—a boisterous class clown beloved by his many straight guy friends—has recently come out as gay and is embracing his newly claimed identity. Initially, Max and Emily dislike each other, but end up growing close after a make-out dare on Halloween. Then one night, Max reveals an unexpected physical attraction that catches them both by surprise. The relationship begins, playfully and in secret, and then spirals into something more. Max and Emily’s journey takes many forms—they experiment with drugs; they travel abroad; they try sleeping with other people (together), and everything in between—all in the name of “this bizarre, beautiful thing” they call love.

I have to admit that I have developed a love for audio books over the past year or two. Which is PAINFUL for my physical book loving/sniffing self to admit. Yes, I sniff books, don’t judge me. But especially since the onset of COVID-19, as a healthcare professional, my time significantly decreased and my need for some form of relaxation significantly increased so audio books have become essential to me.

When Be Straight With Me popped up in my recommended feed I… was hesitant. Memoirs are so far out of my wheelhouse/comfort zone that I am pretty sure the zip code is somewhere around the 90210 area when compared with my east coast self. Not only is it not entirely my favorite, Be Straight With Me was written in second person POV which is something I don’t think I’ve ever read before and I wasn’t sure I would like.

First off, the voice actor, Kate Rudd, was an EXCELLENT choice to narrate this story and she did an absolutely stellar job. So much of the success of an audio book is the actor chosen to narrate and Kate was the perfect person for this.

Here’s the thing. First, second, or third person POV… I have learned it truly doesn’t matter if I am engaged and invested in the story. That, without a doubt, can be said about Be Straight With Me.

It is hard to sum up my feelings on this book (yeah, I know, not exactly the best thing for a book reviewer to admit, but there it is) because the depth of the story was profound and personal.

Emily meets Max at the beginning of her sophomore year of college. She hates him and he acts like a jerk intentionally and they basically spar with each other. But, as sometimes happens, the fighting becomes a point they actually enjoy rather than a true battle. And a friendship is born.

But it isn’t the typical friendship because of their constant banter, which is something I truly love, but also because as they grow closer an unusual physical attraction develops between them. Why unusual? Well, see, Max is gay. Not bisexual, not pansexual, not demisexual, not any other color in the LGBTQ+ rainbow. He is gay.

But he loves Emily. And he loves her with a depth that manifests into a sexual relationship with them. This, as you can imagine, causes all kinds of confusion between both of them. And, although they enter into a relationship, there isn’t a full discussion on this. Brief mentions, yes, but never do the two sit down, soberly, and discuss how this can possible work.

Of course, it doesn’t. There is a back and forth where the flame between them flares and smolders, but they always seem to come back to one another. Even when… they sleep with other people. Now, that being said, I just need to add that there is an event where I believe date rape occurred with Emily while she was working on the dude ranch over the summer. She never said it, but I think it is worth mentioning as a possible trigger warning.

Back to the book. Emily and Max eventually try threesomes, which are epic failures, to try to make sense of the twisted convolution that is their relationship.

However, eventually, real life sinks in and certain truths can’t be denied. After college and after jobs are secured, Max and Emily drift apart and Max finds love with a man.

And Emily? I think in the end, Emily—who always hated being the only blonde in a family of gingers, who hated the curls of her hair, who never really felt comfortable just being Emily—finally fell in love with Emily.

Where to find Be Straight With Me

Amazon

Audible

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Goodreads

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