Kevin and Hugo’s relationship represents what I imagine many kids their age go through, but their personal stories are very unique. I’m not saying they are the only two kids with an overbearing and strict father, or a parent that is dying of cancer, but this is the first story I have read that had these aspects mixed in a story. Winter did a really good job telling their stories. From what I understand this book was originally an adult book adapted to YA. I have never read the original story, but I can say I would never have guessed it was an adult book to start with, and that these boys had started as adults. I imagine it would be hard to have these characters as adults, these people, in your head telling you their story and becoming real people to you, then taking them to a completely different mindset. There is a huge gap from teen to adult thinking. I applaud her ability to do this in the book.
That said, I had things I loved about the book, and things that bugged me. To start, I will say that I really truly felt Hugo’s love for his dad. His grief for the future loss and the actual loss of his father felt very real to me. I’m a bit confused how he was able to hide it so well from classmates, when they live in a town where it would be hard to conceal. I feel Hugo was a very believable character, and his story was heartbreaking. I cried with him a few times in this book.
Kevin, to me, was a typical rich kid that didn’t want what he had because of all the strings that came attached to it. I wanted to hate him at times, but was unable to ever really hate him. He had what many would love to have, but it came with too high a price. He never got what he truly wanted from his father, and that left me feeling a bit unfulfilled. I really liked watching him grow into the person he wanted to be, against very hard odds. He turned into someone I would be proud to know.
Now, I get to talk about my favorite part of this book. The love story. I love that we got to experience everything through their very different perspectives. Hugo was gay, and was comfortable with this fact. Kevin was bi and had not really known that about himself at the beginning of the story.
I think if I was Hugo, the part that would be hardest for me is knowing that my boyfriend DOES like girls and has a girlfriend. Even if it’s just for appearances, I would be just as hurt as he was when Kevin was with Tricia. It surprised me that the author didn’t really talk about that. Hugo was upset, but it was because he was feeling left behind, not the fact that his bisexual boyfriend may actually want a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend. Hugo seemed more upset that Kevin was allowing his father to direct his life.
I love that this story left an opening for more to come. I’m looking forward to reading more about both boys and their relationship. I give this story 4 marbles, because I think rereading it will bring new things to life for me.~Timmy
Pirvate Display of Affection by Winter Sandberg
Available in Print and eBook
About Private Display of Affection
Hugo Thorson knows he’s gay, but coming out during high school is not part of his plan. His parents are open-minded, but Hugo doesn’t want to add more stress for anybody, especially his dad, who is fighting terminal cancer.
At a summer job he meets and befriends Kevin Magnus, and before long, their friendship becomes something more. Kevin knows this will anger his overbearing father, so he decides to protect his secret by dating a girl at school.
Hugo plays along, but it’s still hard to watch the two of them together just to make Kevin’s homophobic father happy. And when Hugo’s father dies, he realizes he can’t go on living the lie. He comes clean to Kevin, who decides Hugo’s true feelings are more important than his father’s expectations.
One fact remains: Kevin and Hugo’s relationship must always be hidden behind friendship, lies, girlfriends, or secret kisses. Will they find a sanctuary big enough to hold their feelings?