There’s only a few days left until Autoboyography by Christina Lauren is released! Get ready with this exclusive excerpt and illustration!
About ‘Autoboyography’ by Christina Lauren:
Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.
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.
‘Autoboyography’ by Christina Lauren exclusive excerpt & illustration:
I pull the blanket from my trunk and spread it over the still-warm hood of my car. Using a few spare jackets and a random beach towel, I make some pillows for us up near the windshield wipers.
Like this, we can lie back and stare up at the stars.
When he sees what I’m doing, he helps me arrange it all, and then we climb up, lying back and letting out, in unison, a satisfied moan.
He bursts out laughing. “It looked so comfortable.”
I shift a little closer, and the hood protests with a metallic rumble. “It’s not so bad.”
Above us, the moon hangs low on the horizon, and stars seem to hold it up by strings.
“One thing I like about this place,” I tell him, “is you can see stars at night. We never could in Palo Alto. Too much light pollution.”
“One thing you like about this place?”
I turn, leaning forward to kiss him once. “Sorry. Two.”
“I know nothing about stars,” he says when I look back up at the sky. “I keep meaning to learn, but there never seems to be time.”
Pointing, I say, “Up there is Virgo. See the top four that form that lopsided trapezoid? Then there’s Gamma Virginis and Spica—they form, like, kite strings below?”
Sebastian squints, sliding closer to better see what I’m pointing to. “That shape there?”
“No . . . I think you’re looking at Corvus. Virgo is . . .” I move his hand so it’s hovering over my chest. My heart is going to climb right up my throat and out of my body. “Right there.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he whispers, smiling.
“And that bright one, that’s Venus—”
He inhales, excited. “Right, I remember—”
“And just beside it, that tight cluster? That’s the Pleiades,” I tell him. “They’ll move closer and closer together.”
“Where’d you learn all this?” he asks.
I turn to look at him.
He’s looking at me, too, so close.
“My dad. There’s not much to do after dark when we’re camping, other than make s’mores, tell ghost stories, and look at constellations.”
“Left to my own devices, I can only ever find the Big Dipper,” he says. His eyes drop to my mouth.
“I would be pretty useless out here without my dad.”
He blinks away, looking back up. “Your dad seems cool.”
An ache builds in my chest because my dad is the best, in part, because he knows me and loves all of me. And yet there is this entire side of Sebastian that his dad knows nothing about. I could go home and tell Dad everything that happened today—could even tell him about lying here with Sebastian on the hood of Mom’s old Camry—and it wouldn’t change anything between us.
Apparently Sebastian has the exact same train of thought, because out of the silence, he says, “I keep thinking about my dad the other day, hugging me so tight. I swear my whole life, the only thing I wanted was to make him proud of me. It’s so weird to say this out loud, but I feel like if Dad is proud of me, it’s this external confirmation that God is proud of me too.”
I don’t know what to say to this.
“I can’t even imagine what my dad would do if he knew where I was.” He laughs, sliding a hand over his chest. “Down a dirt road with a no-access sign, lying on a car with my boyfriend . . .”
The word still sends a jolt through me.
“I used to pray so hard to not be attracted to guys,” he admits.
I turn and look at him.
He shakes his head. “I always felt so terrible afterward, like I was asking for something so minor when other people have these huge problems. But then I met you, and . . .”
We both let it trail off. I’m choosing to think the end of that sentence would be . . . and God told me you were the right choice for me.
“Yeah,” I say.
“So nobody at school knows you like guys, then,” he says.
I notice the way he avoids the words “gay,” “bi,” “queer” again. “No. I think because I’ve dated girls, most people just assume I’m straight.”
“I still don’t understand why you wouldn’t just choose to have a girlfriend if you could.”
“It’s about the person, not what I can do with them.” I take his hand, linking my fingers with his. “It’s not my choice. No more than it is for you.”
I can tell he doesn’t like what I’ve just said. “But you think you might tell more people one day? Like if you ended up with a guy, would you . . . be out?”
“Everyone would know if you came to prom with me.”
Sebastian looks horrified. “What?”
My smile feels wobbly at the edges. I hadn’t actually meant to say that, but I hadn’t not meant to either. “What would you say if I asked?”
Conflict crashes across his features. “I mean. I . . . couldn’t.”
A tiny bit of hope deflates in my chest, but I’m not surprised. “It’s okay,” I tell him. “I mean, of course I would take you, but I didn’t expect you to say yes. I’m not even sure I’d be a hundred percent ready yet.”
“Are you going to go?”
Turning my face back up to the sky, I tell him, “Maybe with Autumn if she bails on Eric. We’re sort of default plus-ones.”
“Were you ever with Autumn?” he asks.
“We made out once. It wasn’t magical.”
“For you, or for her?”
Grinning, I look back at him. “For me. I don’t know how it was for her.”
His gaze slides across my face, landing on my lips. “I think she’s in love with you.”
I don’t want to talk about Autumn right now. “Are you?”
At first I can tell he doesn’t know what I mean. A tiny line forms between his brows, marring the smooth landscape of his forehead.
But then it clears. His eyes widen.
Later, I’ll look back on this and wonder whether he kisses me right now because he doesn’t want to answer, or whether his answer was so obvious he had to kiss me. But in the moment when he leans forward, rolling over me, his mouth hot and familiar on mine, emotion becomes a liquid; an ocean fills my chest.
I find the true impossibility in writing when I think back on this moment right here, when he’s touching me and his palms are branding me, his fingertips tiny spots of heat on my skin. I want to capture it somehow, not only so I’ll remember, but so that I can explain. There’s almost no way to put into words that frantic transition, the deranged tangle we become, except to think of it like a wave on a beach, the physical force of water unstoppable.
The only thing I’m sure of in the moment his touch goes from exploratory, to determined, to purposeful, and his eyes hold steady on my face, full of thrill as I fall, is we are both thinking how good this is, how right. This moment, and the quieter moments afterward, can’t be edited. They can’t be rewritten. They can’t be erased.
Illustration credit: Caroline Layne