The Straight Crimes


Romance - Suspense
301 Pages
Reviewed on 10/20/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

The Straight Crimes by Matt Juhl is a brilliant romantic suspense novel that follows the relationship of teenagers Harper Jones and Nik Roberts. Harper is trying to start over. When she becomes the new kid in town and meets Nik, sparks fly and they fall in love. This sounds like your typical girl meets boy premise, but the thought-provoking twist is its man versus society conflict. Their heterosexual relationship is forbidden to blossom in a society where homosexual relationships have become the norm. This is alternate America where straight relationships are perceived as taboo and have become the new target of prejudice. Throughout her life, Harper had longed for stability, a place to belong, and someone to love her. Despite an uncertain future that their relationship faces, Harper and Nik will fight for each other.

The Straight Crimes not only delivers an entertaining read but also a powerful social message. Matt Juhl boldly writes about a sensitive hypothesis that will challenge your perception of gender bias. It is a heart-piercing tale that invites you to exercise empathy, by placing yourself in someone's shoes and gaining an insight into their experience. The narrative is fast-paced without making you feel rushed as it delicately balances how Harper settles into the rhythms of an alienating place in which she has found herself. In a world where Harper and Nik’s relationship does not fit societal patterns, you cannot help but feel happy and protective over them when you come to grips with the thought that they live in a world that could possibly come true. The Straight Crimes is a highly-recommended read for the challenge that it poses to society to make a stand not only on its position about gender bias, but about drug addiction, bullying, mental abuse, and other contemporary social problems.

Lit Amri

“Their bond had been endlessly tested. Despite all things, it continued to grow stronger. No other two people were ever better suited.” In The Straight Crimes by Matt Juhl, high school senior Nik Roberts lives with an abusive and alcoholic father who is bitter after his spouse left him for a woman. The arrival of a new student, Harper Jones, change his life in a way that he would have never expected. Harper has a problem of her own; her mother is a drug addict who can't keep herself out of trouble. A friendship is formed and soon enough they can't deny their attraction to each other. However, their relationship brings about challenges and sinister intentions that keep coming their way.

If the title The Straight Crimes is not self-explanatory enough for some readers, the alternate world that Matt Juhl created for his characters definitely is. With a fast-paced plot filled with forbidden romance, mystery, and even paranormal elements, this young adult novel is an interesting allegory that reasserts how compelling love can be in confronting stifling social norms and rejection of others. The proposed stigma that burdens Nik and Harper’s relationship is an interesting twist on the ones that LGBTQ individuals face in the real world; being straight is 'queer', not appropriate and not accepted. Despite the obstacles, Nik and Harper's love is affecting and transcends the inevitable; it's easy to root for them. Thought-provoking as well as entertaining, Juhl's The Straight Crimes is a fascinating read.

K.C. Finn

The Straight Crimes is a work of fiction in the suspense, romance, and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Matt Juhl. The work is intended for adult reading audiences owing to the presence of scenes of a sexual nature, scenes of violence, and the use of explicit language throughout. In an alternate world where being gay is considered the norm and fully straight people are ostracised from society, we meet teenage protagonists Harper and Nik, who come together when Harper is at one of her biggest lows. But their problems are only just beginning in a world that doesn’t understand the feelings they might have for one another.

Author Matt Juhl flips the script with an eye-opening conceptual plot that brings LGBTQ+ issues to the fore and helps us all see discrimination of any kind for the beast it really is. Within this unique concept, we find sharp writing which amps up both action and suspense as Harper and Nik find themselves in deeper danger, and alongside this, a tender forbidden love story which brings realism and emotional power to the quieter moments of the plot. One of the things I found most engaging about the story was the commitment to character development, which allows us a close insight into Harper's and Nik’s feelings, about themselves and one another. This really resonates and will do so for both mature YA readers and adult audiences alike. Overall, I can highly recommend The Straight Crimes for fans of high concept and high octane romantic suspense works.