Achingly heartfelt and unabashedly nerdy, Julian Winters’ Right Where I Left You delivers the perfect ode to the end of adolescence, when it often feels like you have your whole life ahead of you—and no time left at all.
Isaac Martin has one summer left with his best friend, Diego, before he’ll face college alone as Diego takes a gap year. All he needs are two tickets to Legends Con, a huge comics and gaming convention, to make it the greatest summer ever. At the event, Isaac plans to ask the creative team behind “Disaster Academy,” his favorite comic series, if superheroes Charm and Reverb will ever reveal their true feelings for each other and provide the racially diverse, canonically queer representation he deserves. Diego also hopes to get some vital career advice from Elena Sánchez, the video game designer he idolizes.
But when Isaac lets Davi, an old crush, distract him from buying tickets on time, all those plans are over before they’ve begun. Suddenly Isaac is juggling his strained relationship with Diego, a potential romance with Davi, complicated family dynamics and friendships he never expected. His first Teen Pride celebration awaits at summer’s end, but to get there, he’ll have to survive the social minefield he’s created.
Right Where I Left You is chock-full of geeky references to comics, games and movies, alongside an astounding number of nods to other queer YA books. While these pop culture references are fun, Winters’ incredible attention to detail goes far beyond the surface, straight into the novel’s emotional core. Every location in the book’s suburban Atlanta setting holds history for the characters, underscoring just how much Isaac will leave behind at summer’s end. Winters communicates big emotions through the minute ways that characters coexist in a space, their casual touches and familiar gestures. The perfect pair of Pride socks, a single comic book panel or a brother’s go-to hamburger order—these simple things carry the weight of a character’s deepest feelings. It’s a perfect reflection of that period in life when everything feels too big and too small all at once.
Although the central romance is delightful and swoony on its own, Right Where I Left You is not just one love story, but many. It’s also about the love of friends and family. It’s about loving stories and the communities that form around them. And it’s about what it means for those stories to love you back and how the right representation can help you create your own happy ending.