The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.
In the midst of the AIDS crisis, three friends navigate first love and activism. Reza is about to start high school and is terrified that someone will figure out he is gay, and that a life of living happily is nothing but a dream. That is until he meets classmates Judy and Art. Jude is an aspiring fashion designer, while Art is her rebellious photographer best friend. Reza quickly finds himself involved with the ACT UP movement with the help of Judy’s uncle, Stephen; he sees the community he’s always longed for. That is until he starts dating Judy to hide his identity from his family while having growing feelings for Art. With the movement and protests rising each day, the three friends find themselves facing the hard truth of growing up and falling in love.
I think this is a difficult review to write because how else can I talk this book other than say, read it yourself, no review can persuade you more than the actual book itself. This book has been quietly sitting on my TBR for quite some time now, and I’m mad at myself for taking so long to read this.
Set in 1989, Reza is a closeted teenager who has recently moved in with his new stepfather and stepbrother. Reza is quiet and keeps to himself, mainly because he’s scared of what his family will think of him. This is also during the height of the AIDS crisis, so while Reza is struggling to grapple with his sexuality, the only thing he sees about it outside is an illness. But meeting Art and Judy gives him hope, gives him confidence. This is a book that I began to read with no expectations, but I immediately fell in love with. The emotions this story evokes is unbelievable.
Like A Love Story is grounded in the harsh realities of its time, and while the story is fiction, the history is not, and Nazemian is very clear in the story he’s telling. “They won’t teach it in schools. They don’t want us to have a history.” This book’s greatest strength is, quite simply put, everything. Nazemian’s story was incredibly moving and heartbreaking.
Reza is an absolute sweetheart. Immediately you want to protect him from everything. His character hit me the hardest, his fear and vulnerability are laid to out to bare, and he chooses to become a ghost to keep him safe. To tell his family the truth and understand what it means is beyond all his power.
Judy’s character was a surprise to me. A well-natured soul who, despite the comments about her body, pushes through expectations and grows into herself. Everyone deserves a friend like Judy. The only moment that didn’t feel right to me was her reaction to Reza’s coming out. I understood where she was coming from, but I felt somewhat shocked her at the response and then understood for plot sake, why it was treated that way.
Art was something different. Reza is soft, Jude is calm while Art carries himself with a burning passion for change, even if it means burning all his bridges behind him. His love is photography, and his story follows him as he tries to capture all and every moment of the movement. To make sure no one forgets what they’ve been through. He reminds Reza that it’s okay not to be okay, and his feelings are more important than what anyone else thinks. I loved the trio dynamic, especially once they’ve all become comfortable with themselves.
Overall, I loved Like A Love Story. It was an emotional portrayal of pride, activism and hope, all packaged into this one book. Nazemian captures a time that is not discussed in history lessons and has created one incredibly moving story.