We love Christina Lauren books and can’t get enough of their books. Our review of Autoboyography is coming this week (spoiler alert, we loved it), but today we’re honored to bring you an excerpt from the upcoming book.
If you aren’t familiar with Autoboyography –
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
We will tell you that this book is the best book that the writing duo has ever written. Without further interruption read the excerpt below.
It begins to snow outside, and thankfully, we move over to a couple of armchairs near the window to watch, letting the book fall away for a while. Sebastian was born here, a few miles down the road. His father is a tax attorney, called to serve as bishop nearly two years ago. His mother was in finance at Vivint before Sebastian was born. Now she’s a full-time mother and wife of the bishop, which, Sebastian explains, sort of makes her the mother of their ward. She likes it, he tells me, but it’s meant that he and Lizzy have had to step up more with Faith and Aaron. He’s played soccer and baseball since he was six. His favorite band is Bon Iver. He plays the piano and guitar.
I feed him the same innocuous details: I was born in Palo Alto. My father is a cardiac surgeon. My mother is a programmer. She feels guilty that she’s not around more, but mostly I’m intensely proud of her. My favorite band is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but I’m in no way musical.
We don’t rehash the question of my sexuality, but I feel its presence like a third person in the room, sitting in the dark corner, eavesdropping on our conversation.
Silence ticks between us as we watch the icy gray sidewalk just below the window slowly become blanketed in white. Steam rises off the surface of a vent at the curb, and with this weird, frantic lurch of my heart, I want to know more about him. Who he’s loved, what he hates, whether it’s even possible he’s into guys.
“You haven’t asked me about the book,” he says finally.
He means his book.
“Oh—crap—I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“It’s not rude.” He faces me and grins like we’re in on this same, exasperating secret. “It’s just that everyone does.”
“I think it’s pretty cool.” I shove my hands in my pockets and stretch back in my chair. “I mean, obviously, it’s amazing. Imagine, your book will be here, in this library.”
He seems surprised by this. “Maybe.”
“I bet you’re tired of talking about it.”
“A little.” He shrugs, smiling over at me. That smile tells me he likes that I haven’t asked him about it, that I’m not here for secondhand, small-town fame. “It’s added some complication, but it’s hard to complain because I realize how blessed I am.”
“Sure, of course.”
“I’ve always wondered what it’s like to live here when you aren’t raised in the church,” he says, changing the subject. “You were fifteen when you moved?”
“Was it hard?”
I take a second to figure out how to answer this. Sebastian knows something about me that no one else knows, and it makes me unsure of my steps. He seems nice, but no matter how nice you are, information is power. “Provo can be suffocating.”
Sebastian nods and then leans forward to get a better view out the window. “I know the church feels like it’s everywhere. It does for me, too. It seems like it seeps into every detail of my life.”
“I can see how it might feel suffocating from the outside, but it does a lot of good, too.” He looks over at me, and with dawning horror I see this study session for what it is. I understand why he agreed to come. He’s recruiting me. He knows about me now, and it’s giving him even more reason to reach out, to save me. He’s not recruiting me to the oiled-up Gay Bliss Club of Northern Utah, but to the LDS Church.
“I know it does good,” I say carefully. “My parents are . . . familiar with the church. It’s hard to live here and not see both the good and the bad of what it does.”
“Yeah,” Sebastian says vaguely, not looking at me. “I can see that.”
“Just . . . wanted you to know, in case . . .” I stop, wincing as I blink away. “I didn’t ask you to help me so that I could join the church.”
When I look back at him, his eyes are wide in alarm. “What?”
I look to the side again. “I realize maybe I gave you the impression that I wanted to hang out because I questioned something about myself, or wanted to join. I don’t have any questions about who I am. I really like you, but I’m not here to convert.”
Wind whistles past the window outside—it’s chilly this close to the glass—and inside, he studies me, expressionless. “I don’t think you want to join.” His face is pink. From the cold. From the cold. It’s not because of you, Tanner. “I didn’t think that’s why you . . .” He shakes his head. “Don’t worry. I won’t try to sell you on the church. Not after what you shared with me.”
My voice is uncharacteristically timid: “You won’t tell anyone?”
“Of course not,” he answers instantly. He stares down at the floor, jaw working over something unreadable to me. Finally, he digs into his pocket. “I . . . here.”
Almost impulsively, he hands me a small scrap of paper. It’s warm, like it’s been cupped in his hand.
I unroll it, staring down at the ten digits there. His phone number.
He must have written it earlier, maybe even before he left home, tucking it into his pocket to bring to me.
Does he realize this is like handing me a grenade? I could blow everything up with this, most specifically his phone. I’ve never been much of a texter, but my God—the way I feel like I want to track his moves when he’s in the classroom is like having a demon possession. Knowing I could reach out to him anytime is torture.
“I don’t—” he starts, and then looks past me. “You can text me, or call. Whatever. Whenever. To hang out and talk about your outline if you need it.”
My chest is painfully tight.
“Yeah, totally.” I squeeze my eyes closed. It feels like he’s about to bolt, and the need to get the words out makes my insides feel pressurized. “Thanks.”
He stands. “You’re welcome. Anytime.”
Our eyes meet, and I can’t believe what I’m about to say. “I definitely want to hang out again.”
His cheeks pop with color. Does he translate this correctly in his head? And what am I even saying? He knows I’m into guys, so he has to know I’m not just talking about the book. Sebastian scans my face, flicking from my forehead, to my mouth, to my chin, to my eyes, and back down to my mouth, before he looks away entirely. “I should probably go.”
I am a tangle of wires; a cacophony of voices shouts out instructions in my head.
Clarify you meant only studying!
Bring up the book!
Double down and tell him you have feelings!
But I only nod, watching him smile stiffly, jog toward the stairs, and disappear around a bend of brilliantly polished oak.
I return to my laptop, open a blank document, and spill it all onto the page.