I first saw Odd One Out by Nic Stone in a post on Instagram by the Swedish publisher Lavender Lit, and was immediately intrigued. Odd One Out is, despite the title (Triangle in Swedish), not about a typical YA love triangle by any means. It’s a unique take on the triangle trop, it’s heartwarming (and heartbreaking) and so real, awkward, funny and messy, just like life as a teenager questioning yourself and your sexuality is.
The book follows the three teenagers Courtney, Jupiter and Rae, and is divided into three sections, one for each different character. Courtney is a straight black boy in love with his best friend, even though he knows she will never feel the same way because she’s a lesbian. Rae is a biracial Irish/Korean new girl at school, a people-please and apparently, not as straight as she thought. Jupiter is a biracial black girl who has two dads and a proud lesbian, as well as Courtney’s best friend and completely obliviate to his feelings.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything similar, with these three blocks instead of alternating POVs, but I liked it. Especially Courtney’s parts, he was definitely my favorite character and voice in the book, I really got him. More than I did the girls. I think that having two questioning queer people in one book might have been a bit too much, in the end it all got a little too messy. Reading this book was such a rollercoaster of rooting for the characters one second, then really disagreeing with their choices the next. But I feel like that was kind of the point and that the messiness was what made this book so unique and made it feel real. Life if messy and as a teenager you should be allowed to be messy and make bad decisions in order to figure out who you are and where and how you fit into the world. I really appreciated the talk about labels that Nic Stone added to the story in the end. It’s an important discussion to have and to realise that labels can change and it can be scary to change them and question who you are.
All in all, this is a book with a new and important angle. It’s a book that shows how complicated it is to navigate personhood, to question your sexuality while falling in love, to be biracial and to deal with homophobia, to grieve a family member and deal with past traumas. Basically, it doesn’t dodge any difficult or awkward topic that you might find yourself having to deal with as a teen, and it tells the story in a wonderful, heartwarming and authentic way.
So, even though I didn’t agree with many of the choices made by the characters, I really enjoyed it. It’s an unforgettable book that I feel could be incredibly important to so many teenagers, that would make them feel seen and validated, and would help others to be more emphatic and understanding to the process of questioning your identity.
Find out more the book and the author here: Nic Stone