Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Courtney “Coop” Cooper is a super-sweet, great-looking basketball player and cheerleader who is secretly (not-so-secretly if you ask his buddies) in love with his best friend in the world, extremely close family friend, and next-door-neighbor, Jupiter Charity Sanchez. Why secret? If they and their families are so close, why doesn’t Coop just profess his love so they begin their epic love affair? Because Jupiter is a lesbian. She has yet to be in a relationship with anyone or even kissed a girl but she has always known and been confident in her sexual identity. When Rae Chin moves to town, she shakes up Coop and Jup’s comfortable relationship. Jupiter is very attracted to Rae who is very attracted to Coop who, as I’ve already mentioned, is madly in love with Jup. When Coop starts showing signs of more-than-friendship interest in Rae, Jupiter is possessed with unexpected feelings of jealousy which cause her to make a drastic move. And it will change everything.
There’s a lot to like in Nic Stone’s sophomore offering. Jup and Coop are African American and Rae is Asian, but their ethnicities are not a factor in the story. The same goes for sexuality. Sexual identity is definitely an important plot point but the fact that these teens are questioning said identity is not a big deal. It doesn’t make them targets of bullying or ridicule. It’s just a part of growing up. I praise and thank authors who are writing and publishers who are publishing race and sexuality as just normal parts of being human. The story is written from the POVs of each of the three main characters. Stone does an excellent job of making each voice that character’s own. I especially like how she differentiates the chapter titles to fit each character’s personality. Coop’s chapters are funny and rambling. Rae’s chapter titles are the definitions of SAT words. And Jup’s chapters are the titles of Queen songs. Clever! Speaking of chapters, they are fairly short, making this a quick read. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book, though, is the author’s note at the. Nic Stone explains how Odd Man Out is the book she needed at age twelve, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, twenty-one when she was feeling confused over her attraction to girls and even now, as a woman happily married to a man, she still continues to struggle with how to define herself. “Am I bisexual? Pansexual? Queer? Heteroflexible? All of the above? None of the above?” Her point is, it’s okay to question. So many teens need to hear this message.