By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

By Any Means Necessary by Candice MontgomeryBy Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
Published by Page Street Kids on October 8, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository

An honest reflection on cultural identify, class, and gentrification. Fans of Nic Stone and Elizabeth Acevedo will eagerly anticipate Torrey.

On the day Torrey officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bee farm his beloved uncle Miles left him after his tragic death is being foreclosed on.

Torrey would love nothing more than to leave behind the family and neighborhood that’s bleeding him dry. But he still feels compelled to care for the project of his uncle’s heart. As the farm heads for auction, Torrey precariously balances choosing a major and texting Gabriel—the first boy he ever kissed—with the fight to stop his uncle’s legacy from being demolished. But as notice letters pile up and lawyers appear at his dorm, dividing himself between family and future becomes impossible unless he sacrifices a part of himself.

When this book popped up on NetGalley, I stared at it and then stared some more, debating whether I should request it. On the plus side, college and m/m romance, but on the minus side bees and comps that made me think I might not be into it (I didn’t like the Nic Stone book I read, and I haven’t read Acevedo, but her books seem like distinctly not Christina books—though I hear they’re amazing). I waffled but ultimately requested, obviously, since I read this book in July 2019, and it doesn’t come out until October. That was such a good decision I made, because I absolutely loved this book from the very beginning and it made me feel all the feels.

By Any Means Necessary is in Torrey’s first person POV, which occasionally breaks the fourth wall (notes for white people, commentary directed to you, etc.). Normally, I’m not a fan of fourth-wall-breaking in literature, because it can feel very unnecessary and try-hard, and I get stuck wondering who the character is actually addressing. In this book, though, it worked for me. They’re often played for humor, and it all just flows really naturally in Torrey’s voice.

Speaking of, I looooooove Torrey’s voice and just generally love the shit out of Torrey. He’s the most adorably precious, anxious lil cinnamon roll. There’s so much about his voice I found massively relatable, even though our lives don’t have a whole lot in common. He’s also really funny and sweet and overwhelmed and doing the best he can. I so badly wanted to give him a hug and also make some suggestions about how to deal with the crap scenario he got dealt.

I’ve hated bees since I was a kid, which is why the bees were a negative for me. I really didn’t think I would care about Torrey’s bee farm, but omg I ended up so invested in those damn bees, not for their sake but because I knew how much they really meant to Torrey, and I didn’t want him to lose that. The apiary is linked to Torrey’s only solid parental figure, who died and left him said apiary. Uncle Miles wanted Torrey to have it, and, with the farm about to be auctioned off because his asshole grandfather didn’t pay the property taxes, Torrey’s freaking out and considering dropping out of school.

This book gave me serious stress, because I was mentally shouting at Torrey not to drop out of school for the bees. But, at the same time, I understood why he was torn between those two things: between what he knew and his promises to the one person who’d reliably been there for him in childhood and between his future opportunities and new friends. He doesn’t want to leave college, but he feels like he’s letting Miles down and like he has no other choice. There’s also some very optimistic unfamiliarity with how things like financial aid work that make him think this would be possible without repercussions anyway, which I actually liked because I could see a college freshman thinking that’s what add/drop means.

Despite the fact that he’s having trouble focusing on anything but the farm, Torrey settles into college life. He makes friends (his roommate, four STEM girls in his building who go by an acronym of their names—CAKE, Gabriel, and even a professor). Though he hasn’t known them for that long, the friendships form quickly and deeply, which felt so true to college. You spend basically all of your time together non-stop, so you get to know each other way more rapidly than adults really ever do.

In a big way, the book is about the importance of found family, and of sometimes needing to let go of people or places to move forward as your best self. Torrey’s relationship with his Aunt Lisa, who married his Uncle Miles, is super sweet and gave me massive feels. I appreciated the variety of dynamics in his assorted friendships, because they all felt very believable. And, of course, Torrey’s relationship with Gabriel is freaking adorable from the very first texts. <spoiler>I liked the way the book handled their fight, too, because they both had to confront that they’d not been seeing all of each other, particularly with Torrey thinking of Gabe as a manic pixie.</spoiler>

Of course, <i>By Any Means Necessary</i> is also a book about gentrification, and the way it stomps all over the lives of the poor non-whites it displaces or prices out of the neighborhood. There’s some legal stuff about how it works in here too, which I wasn’t familiar with, since the farm’s being taken and auctioned off. I think it’s super well done, very realistic, and that the epilogue is pretty much a call to action.

Montgomery’s sophomore novel is outstanding. It’s an excellent readalike for Ibi Zoboi’s Pride, and it made me laugh, happy cry, and sad cry in its 320 pages.

P.S. I saw that Delilah Fisher reference!!!!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery”

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