Title: Only on the Weekends
Author: Dean Atta
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group
Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Page Length: 368
Genre: Contemporary | Romance |Novel in Verse
Age Range: YA
Rep: Black, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
From the Stonewall Award-winning author of The Black Flamingo comes a romantic coming-of-age novel in verse about the beautiful–and sometimes painful–fallout of pursuing the love we deserve. The ideal next read for fans of Kacen Callender, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Becky Albertalli.
Fifteen-year-old Mack is a hopeless romantic–likely a hazard of growing up on film sets thanks to his father’s job. Mack has had a crush on Karim for as long as he can remember and he can’t believe it when gorgeous, popular Karim seems into him too.
But when Mack’s father takes on a new directing project in Scotland, Mack has to move away, and soon discovers how painful long-distance relationships can be. It’s awful to be so far away from Karim, and it’s made worse by the fact that Karim can be so hard to read.
Then Mack meets actor Finlay on set, and the world turns upside down again. Fin seems fearless–and his confidence could just be infectious.
Award-winning author Dean Atta crafts a beautifully nuanced and revelatory story in verse about the exquisite highs and lows of first love and self-discovery.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
I requested Only On the Weekends without reading the synopsis because it was Novel in Verse, which I love, and Dean Atta, which I loved his last book: The Black Flamingo. I’m sad to say that I was slightly disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong I loved this book, but compared to The Black Flamingo, well they just shouldn’t be compared. Yes, they both have black, gay main characters. And yes, they both have romances. But unlike The Black Flamingo, Only on the Weekends is a pure YA Contemporary Romance. I enjoyed the overall feeling and plot of the books – well to an extent…
Firstly, the main component that I wasn’t enjoying or connecting with with Mack and K. I couldn’t connect with either at all – I thought they were fairly selfish people. Especially at first. Really, I thought Mack was spoiled and self-centered, while K was a user, and I had expected him to be the major downfall of the romance – I won’t tell you if I’m right or wrong though 😉. I did love Finlay, who I thought was kind and sweet and the most patient of all the characters. I also loved the two supporting female characters: Chloe and Maz – two very strong female POC characters who weren’t taking any of the boys’ shit!
I also loved the amount of rep in this books. I think Maz (and the three adults who were barely in the books) was the only straight character and majority of the characters were POC, with only Finlay and Ross(?), his best friend and Chloe’s boyfriend. Atta also included a lot of culture including Scotland and Nigeria. I loved the Scottish setting and was just constantly making me want to visit again! And having little elements of Nigerian culture introduced through Mach was a nice added touch.
The components that bothered me most though was cheating. Now, I’m not naive enough to think this doesn’t happen, I’m well aware that it does. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy reading it. I’m over love triangles and main character’s internal monologue justifying their actions. “We haven’t even kissed” is not a good enough reason to justify the cheating. An entire book where the main character decides his love interest between the two, but would constantly saying he was just friends with one 😒 yeah, no that’s not what’s happening lol. That being said, I was happy with how Atta addressed this in the end, it just isn’t something I enjoy reading.
Overall, I love Atta’s writing, even with characters I don’t relate to or agree with their actions. I love the amount of rep included and I loved the way certain topics were addressed, instead of the safe route of not (like most YA romances that have cheating). I was disappointed compared to The Black Flamingo; however, that was a near perfect 5⭐ read and that’s hard for any sophomore book! If you enjoy novel in Verse, contemporary romances, and Atta’s last book, I would highly remember picking this up!