“Avoiding Aiden” by Chris Cole is a funny, endearing, witty, and meaningful combination of romance and coming-of-age novels. With memorable characters and great dialogue, this is an uplifting read, both for the LGBTQ+ community and the rest of us. The book is the recipient of the BREW Readers’ Choice Award – LGBTQ Fiction of 2021/2022
Aiden’s been an avoider ever since he faced the worst tragedy of his life. This is partly why, when going through a vicious breakup, he deals with it the way most college guys do: drinking with friends. There, he meets Jude, a dreamy and charming stranger with whom he seems to have a connection. This could be a rebound one-night-stand or the beginning of something wonderful. But Jude’s unavailable. Completely off-limits. Things get especially convoluted when Carter, Aiden’s ex, makes a violent come back into the scene. Will Aiden be able to confront both the immense joy and crushing sadness that comes with facing life instead of avoiding it? “Avoiding Aiden” by Chris Cole is both a charming and endearing combination of romance and coming-of-age. Though, technically, Aiden, a twenty-one-year-old, is not exactly a teenager, who’s to say there’s a set age for maturity and growth?
It takes a special talent to find a balance between meaningful topics and a light, enjoyable narration, but Chris Cole found it. “Avoiding Aiden” is funny, cute, and engaging in a way that made me devour the novel in just a couple of days. But it’s not vapid at all.
Two social issues stand out in “Avoiding Aiden:” the problems that the LGBTQ+ community faces, and the boundaries of consent. The first one doesn’t limit to discrimination, which is an obvious problem, but to the community attacking itself from within and gatekeeping what it means to be a “proper” gay, or drag, or queer person. The latter is much more complex. “No means no” sounds easy enough for most of us. But what happens when the person says yes but society says otherwise?
Another point I find commendable is the incredible diversity of the cast of characters. Mostly the LGBTQ+ community will find representation in “Avoiding Aiden,” but I applaud the author who didn’t stop there but included, for example, Elyse. She’s cis-gendered and heterosexual but has Cerebral Palsy. All the characters in this book were carefully developed and will stay with the reader long after they close the book.
This might make it seem like “Avoiding Aiden” is a read just for LGBTQ+ people, but it’s not. Loss, grief, disease, self-growth, romance, and family, among other topics, are all facets of the human experience that we all can relate to, no matter our gender or sexual orientation. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend the book to staunchly conservative people who are blatantly opposed to sexual and other forms of diversity. The book isn’t a great pick either for those who have a particular party affiliation or preference during the 2016 US elections since the author takes a jab here and there at a former US president and his party.
The narration has the perfect balance between action, description, and dialogues. These are outstanding because of their authenticity and wit. It takes talent to include humor amidst serious topics without being insensitive, but I can genuinely say this book often made me laugh. For example, Charlie, one of Aiden’s friends, complains when Jude cleverly diverts the conversation from himself by saying, “He worked his English voodoo on us, and I don’t like it.” I’m totally calling that tactic English voodoo from now on. The narration is also interspersed with fragments of Aiden’s journal and text messages. This makes the reading experience more fluid and immersive.
Adding to all the above, the book was carefully edited. Readers who are interested in psychology, who can’t resist a good romance, who value outstanding character development and clever dialogue, or readers who just want an uplifting and endearing read, can’t miss “Avoiding Aiden.”
- Title: Avoiding Aiden
- Author: Chris Cole
- Genre: LGBTQ Fiction
- Theme: Romance
- Publication Date: 5 December 2021
- ISBN or ASIN: B09MYVW5QP
- Number of Words: 71,875
- Minimum Audience Age: 15+
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 2
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 1
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 3
- Other adult themes: 0
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 5 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
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