By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
Published: Page Street (October 8th 2019)
Genre: young adult; contemporary
Rep: Black gay mc, Afro-Latino bi li, almost all Black side characters
Rating: 4/5 🍑
ARC provided by the publisher.
I have so much love for this book, I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s just make a list and get through it step by step.
1) The writing style is really cool. It’s first person pov, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it works perfectly here. It’s clear that Montgomery knows how teenagers think, so it’s never awkward in that particular way only some YA books can be. Instead, it’s fresh & funny & casual. It’s like hanging out with a friend, basically. And then you get treated with a beautiful sentence here and there & it becomes magical.
2) From the first word to the very last, this book is just unapologetically Black. You can feel that pride in the culture seeping out of every paragraph, but it also doesn’t shy away from dealing with some uncomfortable parts of belonging to the community. It’s actually a whole arc, with Torrey trying to save the apiary and not always getting the support he’s looking for from members of that community.
3) At the same time, there are still a lot of people who are willing to help him. And the majority of them are women, which Torrey is very much aware of in his narration. It basically feels like a love letter to Black women & it doesn’t just stop with that one arc or just one generation of women – Torrey appreciates the friends he made at college just as much as the women he grew up around. It’s woven into the whole book, into the very essence of Torrey even – this deep appreciation of all the work that Black women do.
4) This social awareness he displays doesn’t stop there, either. The book full-on calls out white people on all the little (and big) ways we exhibit racism in our day to day lives. Personally, I appreciated that a lot. It always worked perfectly well the topic at hand, too. Actually, one of the main topics of the book is pretty much a call-out of white, western culture: gentrification. The book shows how this “trend” destroys whole communities, while also saying “hey, you can fight back”.
5) The romance is kind of central to the plot, only by central I don’t mean that it’s the tired “will they, won’t they” dance. The opposite, really. Torrey and Gabriel get together pretty soon in the book and it’s their love that helps Torrey to push forward. The romance is central in a way that it acts as an anchor for Torrey. It’s central in a way that it’s a big part of Torrey’s life and focuses him. It’s never the magical cure for all his problems & actually causes some of its own, but it’s important. It’s shown as the complex thing that it should be.
I’m not trying very hard, but I just can’t find any faults in this book. If you’re Black, I’m pretty sure reading it would feel like a warm hug, like someone is looking out for you, but also like a push to action. If you’re not, like me, you might just learn something. In any case, it’s a really well written book about a Black gay freshman in college trying to balance all the things in his life & you don’t wanna miss out on that.
An honest reflection on cultural identify, class, and gentrification. Fans of Nic Stone and Elizabeth Acevedo will eagerly anticipate Torrey.
On the day Torrey officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bee farm his beloved uncle Miles left him after his tragic death is being foreclosed on.
Torrey would love nothing more than to leave behind the family and neighborhood that’s bleeding him dry. But he still feels compelled to care for the project of his uncle’s heart. As the farm heads for auction, Torrey precariously balances choosing a major and texting Gabriel—the first boy he ever kissed—with the fight to stop his uncle’s legacy from being demolished. But as notice letters pile up and lawyers appear at his dorm, dividing himself between family and future becomes impossible unless he sacrifices a part of himself.
I sure hope I convinced you to pick this one up!
What are your favourite contemporary YA books?