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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.