REVIEW: THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen

Great New Adult love story challenging homophobia

piranha stars blue 4

I’ve read and enjoyed all 5 books in Bowen’s ‘The Ivy League’ New Adult series. I chose to review ‘The Understatement Of The Year’ because a) it is a gorgeous love story and b) it challenges prejudices, specifically homophobia, without being at all preachy. It also has a really great ice hockey background!

Warning – this book includes a lot of sex, most of it male/male, so if you don’t like that you won’t love this book.

The heart of the story is about how two 15-year-old boys from a conservative Christian background cope with a violent homophobic attack. Rikker is badly hurt and comes out as gay to his parents who are horrified and send him away to live with his grandmother. Graham escapes physical injury but is terrified of anyone ever again knowing he is gay.

Five years later the two meet up again when Rikker transfers to the university attended by Graham and joins the same ice hockey team. Graham’s attraction to Rikker and his fraught attempts to ‘prove’ he is straight make gripping reading. In addition, there are lots of lovely sub-plots around homophobia in sport, attitudes to sexually confident women and Rikker’s relationship with different members of his family and his ex.

Altogether this is a very satisfying read. My only complaint is that some of the characters tend towards the stereotypical, but overall Bowen is to be congratulated on making such a great read from what could be a difficult subject.

Review by Gill-Marie Stewart


Gill-Marie writes YA mystery/romances as Gill-Marie Stewart. As Gilly Stewart she also writes women’s contemporary fiction. The first book in her YA series about George and Finn is Music and Lies (try out the first chapter here).

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