Sunday, May 19, 2024

Review: Kelly's Folly by T.H. Forest

by T.H. Forest
Release Date: September 1st, 2023
2023 Holdorf Press LLC
Ebook; 369 Pages
ISBN: 979-8987033043
Genre: Fiction / YA / MM Romance
Source: Review copy from author

4 / 5 Stars 

Kelly, 16, has just moved from England to Ohio. Kelly likes eyeliner, nail polish, and tall boys who smell nice. Kelly doesn’t like back-stabbing friends, controlling boyfriends, or being mistaken for a girl.

Lance is the star quarterback at Verity High School. He’s the broody son of a high-profile Republican senator, and not a fan of boys who like eyeliner. Noah is a senior in the music program at Verity. He’s the bad boy son of a famous music producer, and definitely a fan of boys who like eyeliner.
It doesn’t take Kelly long to discover that life in Mission Hill, a town his family moved to for its Olympic-level Aquatics Center and dive program, is a whole lot more complicated than the life he left in Reading. Especially when he finds himself torn between two loves and juggling friend groups.

My Thoughts
Kelly's Folly was a well-written book about the life of an elite diver and the ups and downs of navigating training, life, romance, relationships, and family. It was a fascinating look at the challenges young people face as they figure out their sexuality and deal with families and friends who don't accept them for who they are and the affect this has on their mental health.  

Kelly was definitely one of my favourite characters in this book, even if he was the main character. I appreciated his sarcastic look on life, and loved his internal monologues at what was happening around him, comments that actually made me laugh out loud at times. Many of those comments were references to 80s movies and as someone who was a teen during that time period, I found it completely relatable and loved the comparisons.  I thought Kelly's character development was great; he was confident, but vulnerable at the same time, loyal to his friends, and focused on his diving.  And while the other characters weren't quite as developed, which is to be expected as they were secondary characters, they still had their own distinct voices, and I enjoyed learning more about their lives and their motivations. I was able to connect with them and empathize with their choices as I was able to understand their feelings and their motivations.

The pacing was great and the author has this ability to draw you into the story and into the characters' lives.  The author skillfully navigated the world of competitive diving with Kelly's personal life so neither of them overshadowed the other, something I really appreciated. As an elite athlete, I really enjoyed learning more about the diving world, I didn't want it to be the main focus of the book. The author managed to balance both worlds quite well and I liked learning about how Kelly dealt with the pressures of diving along with the pressures of school and relationships, with all of them sometimes colliding.  One of the things I will mention however, being the fact this is a YA novel, is the lack of trigger warnings with regards to sexual content. And before anyone jumps on me, I would have been uncomfortable reading about heterosexual descriptions like this in a YA novel, so it has nothing to do with MM Romance. Maybe it's just me, but he was only 16 at the beginning of the story. 

Kelly's Folly was a great exploration of a young man dealing with the pressures of the competitive world as well as the pressures of school and relationships. While his sexuality was known to his friends, it was not known in the diving world, and he was trying to deal with the best time to open himself up to revealing that to fans as well as trying to be supportive to friends who did not have support groups at home.  I thought the author did a great job developing the characters and the pacing of the story kept me glued to the page. Like I already mentioned, I did feel the sexual content was a bit much for a novel geared for the ages of 15-18.  


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