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The Pizza Chronicles – 4 Star Book Review

Welcome to the September 11th review stop on the blog tour for The Pizza Chronicles, a pair of YA Contemporary LGBTQIA novels written by Andy V. Roamer. Follow the rest of the tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours for more features, book excerpts, other reviews, and guest posts! There’s also a giveaway for followers of the tour.

I am reviewing book one, Why Can’t Life be Like Pizza, but I will include info and excerpts on both books. Be sure to check the tour and Goodreads for reviews on the second book, Why Can’t Freshman Summer be Like Pizza?, for reviews from other readers.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.

Why Can’t Life be Like Pizza?
The Pizza Chronicles Book One
by Andy V. Roamer
Genre: YA LGBTQ Contemporary
Page Count: 210
Add to your Goodreads TBR!

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules. Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole. But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

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Excerpt

I did it! I made a move, and Carole responded! Whoa! Whoa! I shouldn’t get too ahead of myself. It was just a little step, kind of pathetic really, and I’m blushing when I write this. But it was something.

We did another computer job, helping a lady with her internet connection. It was a beautiful afternoon, so Carole suggested we take a walk through the woods that are adjacent to the ballpark in our neighborhood and then go get some pizza. I couldn’t help wondering if she was giving me another hint.

The walk through the woods was kind of romantic. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. The sun was shining, the leaves were turning a million colors, and the world seemed like a good place. We sat down by a stream and gazed at the water gurgling over the rocks.

We both sat there quietly, leaning on each other, lost in our own thoughts. Then Carole moved away from me a little and said, “RV. Where are you, RV?” She was staring at me with the funny look that made her eyes sparkle.

“Huh?”

Carole giggled. “You’re so far away. We’ve both been far away. Let’s come back here. Here is nice, isn’t it?” She moved back a little closer to me.

I hugged her more tightly. Okay, this was it. I leaned over and kissed her on the lips.

Her lips felt soft and spongy, like marshmallows. Except they weren’t sweet. They didn’t taste like anything. I pulled back, and we were staring at each other again.

“You’re a nice guy,” Carole said. “I really like you.”

“I really like you,” I answered. The skin on my face turned hot. I’m sure I was blushing so hard I created new shades of red.

Carole leaned over, wrapped her arms around me, and kissed me so hard, I fell backward onto the grass. Carole fell on top of me and continued kissing me so hard my teeth began to hurt.

Then I felt her tongue against my lips. I’d read about French kissing and knew that you were supposed to let the other person’s tongue go into your mouth. The thought of letting someone’s else wet tongue in my mouth grossed me out for a second. But this was Carole. It seemed like the right thing to do, so I opened my mouth.

Carole’s tongue went right inside, pushing against my tongue, probing around my teeth. I did the same thing, sticking my tongue into her mouth. It was like a sword fight with tongues. I wonder if there’s an app that tells you the rules of French kissing. Like whose tongue goes first? Or how much time do you have in the other person’s mouth before it’s the other person’s turn in your mouth? I made a mental note to ask Ray. He’s always on his cell phone even at dinner, which makes Dad mad. But if anyone would know about such an app, it would be Ray.

Carole and I lay there kissing and hugging each other. I was starting to get a little tired, but Carole didn’t seem tired at all. Her tongue was all over my mouth and my lips, and she was running her hands through my hair.

I figured I better do the same thing, so I started running my hands through her hair. Then I moved my hands over her back, the way James Bond does in his movies. I love James Bond movies, watch all the old ones, and wish they made new ones more often. Now there’s a guy who knows how to kiss. I tried to remember all the moves he does with the ladies, but I’m sure my movements with Carole were pretty pathetic compared to his.

Carole finally took her tongue out of my mouth and lifted her head. Her eyes still had that sparkly look in them, though, and she was staring at me for what seemed like hours. Then she finally rolled off me. We lay side by side, looking into the blue sky.

“What are you thinking about?” Carole asked finally.

“Uh, nothing much,” I answered. “What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing much.”

Carole giggled a little. “Actually, I was thinking this was the best French kiss I’ve ever had.”

I wanted to ask her how many French kisses she had before, but didn’t dare.

“How about for you?”

“Oh, yeah. It was great compared to the others,” I lied. Am I supposed to admit to her that I’ve never come close to any kind of kiss with a girl, let alone a French one?

Finally, both of us sat up. “I guess I should be going home,” I said, brushing the leaves off my clothes.

“Yeah, I should too,” Carole said.

We walked home, not talking too much. I wonder if Carole was thinking about all her French kissing experiences. I was thinking about the opposite -my total lack of kissing experience- in French or any other language.

My Review

Thank you to the author, Andy V. Roamer, for sending a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review through Silver Dagger Book Tours.

Why Can’t Life by Like Pizza is a school year in the life of a teenage boy from an immigrant family who is questioning his sexuality. It’s told in the form of diary entries and holds nothing back. We see the main character RV’s dysfunctional family on the verge of falling apart while his best friend’s equally dysfunctional family actually does. We see him question whether or not he could possibly be gay (or bi, or any of many other different labels) as he muses about his school’s Gay Alliance club, develops feelings for his male lab partner, and forms a close bond with his Latin teacher, who is an openly gay man and no stranger to being persecuted for it.

I didn’t enjoy the beginning of this book, and if I had picked it up entirely on my own and didn’t owe a review, I would not have pushed through and finished. I didn’t like RV at first and downright hated his family. Thankfully I did owe a review and did push through because I ended up loving this book! Its saving grace comes in the form of RV’s many visits to his Latin teacher’s hospital room after the man has been brutally attacked leaving a gay bar early in the school year. The mentorship and life lessons displayed during these interactions made me feel a myriad of emotions and want to push this book on everyone I know despite how I felt about the beginning.

I’m glad that this book has a sequel as I didn’t feel the ending was a true ending. The book ends with the school year, leaving so many unanswered questions. The stakes for RV remained fairly low throughout the book, so it didn’t feel like he got any major answers or resolutions. I hope that the sequel picks up right where this one left off so we can all get the rest of the story.

Overall I rate this book 4 stars out of 5, as I can’t ignore the rough start or the non-ending, but the meat of this book is truly worth reading.

Trigger warning for domestic violence.

About the Book

Why Can’t Freshman Summer be Like Pizza?
The Pizza Chronicles Book Two
by Andy V. Roamer
Genre: YA LGBTQ Contemporary
Page Count: 179
Add to your Goodreads TBR!

RV, having successfully completed his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School, is hoping for a great summer. He’s now fifteen years old and looking forward to sharing many languid summer days with his friend Bobby, who’s told him he has gay feelings too. But life and family and duties for a son of immigrant parents makes it difficult to steal time away with Bobby.

Bobby, too, has pressures. He spends part of the summer away at football camp, and his father pushes him to work a summer job at a friend’s accounting firm. Bobby takes the job grudgingly, wanting to spend any extra time practicing the necessary skills to make Latin’s varsity football team.

On top of everything, RV’s best friend Carole goes away for the summer, jumping at an opportunity to spend it with her father in Paris. Luckily, there is always Mr. Aniso, RV’s Latin teacher, to talk to whenever RV is lonely. He’s also there for RV when he inadvertently spills one of Bobby’s secrets, and Bobby is so angry RV is afraid he is ready to cut off the friendship.

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Excerpt

Bobby and I sat there for a while, not saying anything, just enjoying being together, feeling like we were watching the whole world but not letting the world see us.

“So? Was this worth the bike ride and the climb?” Bobby finally asked.

“You bet. I love finding special places. Like the place in the woods not far from my house. It’s a good place to think and dream.”

Bobby nodded. “Yeah. I discovered this spot when I came to the park with my folks. They just wanted to sit and relax on the hill, so I went exploring.”

“Yes, exploring is good. Where would we be in life without exploring!”

I laughed and gave Bobby a nudge. He nudged me back. “Now I’ve shown you a good place to think and dream too.”

I nodded, and we sat quietly for a long time, just happy looking out at Boston and being next to each other. Bobby put his hand on mine and it reminded me again of the first time he had touched me in the spring. The crazy, amazing feeling that went through my whole body. I know it’s stupid to say, but it was like I became alive in a new way. Even though that jolt of excitement lasted only a few seconds, I’ll never forget it.

It was great to experience the feeling again. Bobby’s gentle touch on my hand probably didn’t mean much to him, but to me it meant a lot, especially that things were good between us. It was one of those moments in life when everything seems perfect. Just the way it’s supposed to be. I wanted to stay there forever with Bobby’s hand on mine.

Then I remembered something. “Hey, Bobby!” I exclaimed, turning to him.

“What?”

“It’s the summer solstice!”

Bobby looked puzzled.

“The longest day of the year. When the sun is exactly over the Tropic of Cancer. It happens every year between June 20 and 22. And this year it’s today.”

Bobby suddenly laughed. “Oh, RV. You should go on a game show!”

My cheeks were getting hot. Carole calls it the RV Blush. When I’m really embarrassed about something, my face turns bright-red. And I was really embarrassed by my nerd part coming out in front of Bobby of all people.

Bobby was still laughing. “I believe you. I really do.” He put his arm around me and gave me a little hug. “Being with you, I learn all these crazy things. That’s why I like you.”

“Don’t these long days make you feel good?” I said, more quietly. “Summer stretching out ahead. It makes me feel optimistic. Like I’ll have time to live my life, and not just do homework. Or chores. Or other things I’m forced to do. Summer is for us.”

About the Author

“Don’t these long days make you feel good?” I said, more quietly. “Summer stretching out ahead. It makes me feel optimistic. Like I’ll have time to live my life, and not just do homework. Or chores. Or other things I’m forced to do. Summer is for us.”

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Giveaway

There’s a $25 Amazon gift card up for grabs to one lucky follower of the tour. Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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