This is Kind of an Epic Story explores grief accumulated in one Nate Bird. He is dealing with a childhood friend / crush being back in town, and navigating a world in which his ex-girlfriend is back to be his best friend. If you’re a fan of YA books that focus on second chance romance and on its MC’s arc, check it out!
Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.
Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.
Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.
After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?Goodreads
This is Kind of an Epic Love Story is so poignant and its sincerity is delivered first hand through the point of view of Nathan “Nate” Bird. This is Kind of an Epic Love Story is Kheryn Callender’s first YA but not their debut book. They released a Middle Grade book titled Hurricane Child which came out in late March!
I loved how vulnerable Nate was. Nate’s feelings are always present on page whether he himself wants them to be or not. I love that he reveals that he’s very clingy, he feels so much, and his feelings make a way out of his mouth.
This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story needs a content warning for the mention of a parental death and cheating.
So. Much. Drama.
Nate’s year is about to change a lot. Not only is he dealing with the fact that his ex-girlfriend Florence “Flo” is now his best friend again, he also has to deal with his childhood friend / crush Oliver James “Oli” is back in town. All kinds of feelings spring up in Nate about Oli. Mainly feelings of guilt of how their last minutes together before the move went and over his guilt that he somehow drove Oli away.
Consequently, Oli joins Nate’s friend group but that’s not without the awkwardness of Nate trying to figure out his feelings -not in a “What is my sexuality?” way but in a “How do I have a crush on this guy as well as on my ex-girlfriend?
In This is Kind of an Epic Love Story, there are no labels. I’m not saying is an ideal thing but it’s a freeing thing. I didn’t worry about Nate’s arc whether romantic or within in his own family was going to be about coming out and dealing with sexuality. Nate had feelings for Flo and Oli and gender and sexual/romantic attractions aren’t a big deal. They’re not issues, which was a relief.
Dealing with Grief
As the story progresses the reader won’t be able to stop themselves from rooting for Nate. To take chances not only on his heart but also on his future, on his family, on his own feelings regarding his father.
As a person who lost their father twelve years ago, I felt so much of Nate’s feelings. He lost his dad nine years before the book’s beginning and the way the grief set itself in his life in this ambiguous way of him not being even able to remember his dad rang so true to my heart. I truly sympathized and felt for his helplessness about those feelings. He wanted to comfort his mom, who felt the tragedy with extremely empathy even nine years later, but at the same time he couldn’t a hundred percent relate.
His mother and father’s relationship also play a big role in Nate’s disbelief in happy ever afters. For a movie buff, and whoa prepare yourself for lots and lots of popular movie references, Nate does not buy into the whole idea that loves lasts. He’s so wrapped up in this idea that it corrupts his relationships with his friends and with Oli. This involuntary destructive behavior that Nate possesses was so relatable to me. Nate’s constant worry put him as a distance from truly letting things get through his walls. As a person who’s dealt with a lot of failed relationships (romantic and platonic) and anxiety, I related so much.
Friendship and diversity
This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story focuses on friendships in a healthy and nuanced way. Nate tried to be involved with his friends and their lives, and sometimes he would feel this wall of communication between him and them due to his own feelings. I also loved how tightly knit the group felt but also like they had fights like regular friends do in their performative years would fight.
This book holds a dear spot in my heart because it’s by a nonbinary black author who dedicated it to “QPOC” which is such a lovely thing to do. I teared up at that page, to be honest.
This book presents diversity in such a candid way. It shows queer diversity, racial diversity, ability diversity all in such a comfortable and casual way. As an abled reader, I cannot comment on the disability representation in Oliver James’ Hard of Hearing representation, so I welcome any comments from disabled readers who read this. Flo also expresses her candid and casual attraction to Nate and another person who is a girl.
This book could do so much for queer teenagers of color. This could be their magical source for all their confusion, all their grief, all their friendship dilemmas. I highly recommend This is Kind of an Epic Love Story and would advise you to put this five star YA phenomenon on your TBRs. You can pick up a copy on Amazon or Indiebound.
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