CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 6. . . . October 13, 2017
Jorge (pronounce George) was expelled from school after beating up a guy who was known for bullying younger, more vulnerable kids. Though it’s a tough blow, Jorge takes advantage of the free time to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. When he gets accepted to train under one of his idols, he believes things couldn’t possibly get any better, until he meets Thom. Thom is the hot black guy working the concession stand during a match one night, and he and Jorge fall for one another, starting off a whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, just when things seem to be going smoothly, Jorge wonders if he can’t do better at a bigger, fancier gym where the trainer pushes steroids and the fans are a lot more homophobic. When Thom catches wind of the new situation that Jorge has been hiding from him, Jorge realizes that he may have lost control of everything.
In True to You, Correia’s second novel for the “Lorimer Real Love” collection, he shines the light on ambition, first love, and fighting for what’s right. While Jorge is a rather frustrating character for the most part, his mistakes and miscalculations are, nonetheless, realistic. His desire to become famous unfortunately leads to his less than admirable decisions regarding Thom and his own career, not to mention the fact that he has no desire to go back to school. Furthermore, Thom provides a welcome juxtaposition to Jorge through his activism—he goes to protests and refuses to accept homophobia in his life—and his supportive nature.
While this story did feel more authentic in many ways that Correia’s first book for the “Real Love” series, there is still room for improvement where the overall story is concerned. The first issue is the fact that, though Jorge is expelled from his school, his parents don’t seem to really have any issue with it—their disappointment is alluded to briefly but never fully explored—and there is no effort shown to find him a new school to attend for the remainder of the year. This leads me to the issue of the leaps in time throughout that leave seemingly necessary situations and issues unexamined. I realize that the quick reads have a purpose in being brief, but it felt as though Correia could have simply explored a shorter portion of the timeline rather than leaving gaps in the narrative.
True to You is told through first-persona narration, giving readers a glimpse into Jorge’s mind, which is useful, but the style feels rather formal for being the voice of a 17-year-old boy. His actions, in other words, did not entirely seem to fit his actions where maturity (or lack thereof) is concerned. In the end, True to You is a good, if rather conventional text, that relies on a number of tropes relating to the world of wrestling and queer teen life. I would hope that high school libraries and public libraries would include this novel in their collections for those hoping for a quick and engaging read.
Rob Bittner has a PhD in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (SFU) and is also a graduate of the MA in Children’s Literature program at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. He loves reading a wide range of literature, but particularly stories with diverse depictions of gender and sexuality.