Sunday, September 15, 2013

ARC Review: Dumb Jock: The Musical (Dumb Jock #4) by Jeff Erno

Dumb Jock: The Musical (Dumb Jock, #4) Title: Dumb Jock: The Musical by Jeff Erno
Series:  Dumb Jock #4
Genre: M/M Romance, Contemporary
Expected publication: September 18th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Evan Drake needs to be a role model to his younger brother Brandon, and although he’s a star on his high school basketball team, there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’s interested in many things, including drama and singing, and when he joins drama club, he meets Noah Sheridan, and he’s pretty interested in him, too. Noah is a super smart, cute but nerdy kid who has written a high school play about two gay students who attended Boyne City High twenty years ago, and who in real life, fell in love with each other. When the drama department elects to use the play for their high school musical, Noah urges Evan to audition for the lead role. Evan ultimately decides he wants to be in the play, but when he shows up to audition, it sends shockwaves throughout the school. His teammates are furious, and so is his best friend Bryan. As Evan and Noah grow closer, Bryan gets more traitorous, and it seems he wants nothing more than to see his former friend broken down.

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Even though this is the fourth book in the series, it's not necessary to read the previous books to enjoy this one. I find the high school attitudes and mentality portrayed in the book to be accurate and that adds an element of realism to this story. This is an emotional read for me that deals with depression, social acceptance, being gay, and finding oneself.

Evan and Noah both know they are gay. When Noah writes a gay play for the drama club, he looks forward to Evan, the basketball jock, playing the lead role of the jock falling in love with the nerd. Their relationship mirrors the play that is based on Brett and Jeff from the first two books in this series. When Evan auditions for the play, the basketball team, school, and local church turns against Evan, forcing him to choose between basketball and participating in the play.

I really like the main characters and their romance is sweet. Noah is shy, gets bullied a lot for being gay, but still finds ways to use his talents to show the world who he is and his sexuality doesn't define him. Even though Evan is a popular and talented basketball jock, he still struggles with labels, his sexuality, and high school cliques. When they meet, they strengthen each other and help each other deal with bullies and other high school drama. They also bond and find a niche with each other's families, which is really sweet.

In the beginning of the story, the romance and conflict slowly builds up to the grand finale of the public meeting regarding homosexuality in schools. However, towards the end, a lot of their issues are solved with unexpected help and speed, which seems unrealistic and fast in relation to the slow build of romance. I also didn't like that the epilogue focuses on a supporting character and serves as a prelude to the next series, but I've come across other books that do that too. At least, the main characters in this book get their HEA.

The best thing about this book is the positive ways it shows to combat negativity. When the characters are bullied, sad, depressed, or suicidal, there is also someone that cares and supports. Evan and Noah both tries to stand up for themselves in various ways, but they are reminded that someone cares about them and would stand up for them too. Labels are another central theme in the book. Evan struggles with the label and stereotype of being a jock but his interests are wider than the label. He can sing and he's in the drama club, and that's a whole different clique from the sports team. In the end, labels don't matter and even their sexuality cannot define who these characters are as a person.

Reading this book can remind you of your high school years and connect you with these characters that are struggling to find themselves. This is an emotional read that will leave you with hope and a conviction that the future will hold better things if you believe in yourself and don't give up.

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