I’m glad for a change in genre and what a lovely book to switch it up with.
Fin Whittle is sixteen and he likes guys. A fact which seems to be complicating his life.
One minute Fin’s kissing the godlike Jesse; the next he s been cruelly outed. His family’s response? To up sticks in search of a ‘fresh start’.
A fresh start won’t change the truth of who Fin is. Obviously. But it does introduce him to the best squad in town: kick-ass Poppy, her on-off girlfriend June and the super cute, super irresistible Rye.
Fin soon has a serious crush. And Rye might just feel the same way. But Fin’s parents aren’t happy. If their son won’t change his ‘lifestyle’, they ll force him onto the straight and narrow . . . by way of ‘conversion therapy’. An outrageous plan is needed to face down the haters and to give Fin and Rye (and their fireflies) a chance at the happy-ever-after their story deserves . . .
From moonlit meet-ups to vintage diners, pride parades to a passion for old vinyl, Fin & Rye & Fireflies is a gloriously upbeat tale of being true to yourself no matter what.
Just before I picked up this book I happened to see a few good reviews for it which got me really excited for diving in. Honestly I couldn’t recommend this book enough, it is just wonderful.
I was a bit unsure after reading the description whether it would be a lighthearted or quite a heavy read. I mean fireflies, diners, pride parades and vinyl all sounded exactly like my cup of tea but ‘conversion therapy’ is a pretty substantial topic. However it manages to strike the perfect balance even when it is dealing with the harder subjects, like Fin’s intolerant parents or the bigotry that comes from other people, there is still always a glimmer of hope and the warmth of the support from his friends.
The characters in this book are everything, they are genuine and diverse and make me feel all squishy inside. Fin is just wonderful, he has so much to navigate and he could be angry and resentful but instead he is enjoying his new friends and his crush on Rye. I feel like I really connected with Rye because some of the feelings he was dealing with I remember going through when I was that age, he always wants to see the best in people and is quick to blame himself when things don’t work out.
The relationship between Fin and Rye made my heart happy, they start as friends and it slowly turns into something more but even though both of them have a lot to work through they really fight for each other, any time they were together I could feel the fireflies too. Poppy and June were great characters as well, I liked that they were all friends but also trying to work out their relationship at the same time. The friendships all felt really authentic, they didn’t always agree with each other and they sometimes thought too much about what they were each going through but when it came to it they would all show up for each other.
Special mention should also be made for Thelma, because I love a cute wee doggo who loves a snuggly nap.
I also appreciated seeing the different levels of support from the parents, it was good to have a representation of what real acceptance can look like in contrast to the intolerance, but also to have the situations evolve and to allow there to be progress. I think it’s so important for young people going through the same thing to see that it can be possible and that if acceptance doesn’t come from your family that you can find it through friends.
Fin & Rye & Fireflies is just such a joyful book and I hope that we get more of the same from Harry Cook, I’ll be looking forward to his next book.
Born in the UK, Harry Cook is an Australian actor and international LGBTQI+ activist. He has starred in major film, TV and theatre productions, including the lead opposite Geena Davis in Accidents Happen. In 2013, at age 22, Harry came out to his fans on YouTube. The video went viral and Harry became front-page news in Australia, the UK and the US. Harry lives in Sydney with his rescued English Bulldog Poppy.