Right Where I Left You (2022) by Julian Winters, is a super-cute, queer teen romance filled both with queer characters of color, and comic book and video game fan references.
Isaac Martin has just graduated high school and is enjoying his summer before heading off to college in the fall. Despite his sometimes-crippling anxiety, his life is pretty good–he lives with his Mom, sees his Abuelo regularly, Face-times with his pregnant older sister often, and is nearly inseparable with his best friend, Diego. Diego is as obsessed with video games as Isaac is with comic books, and they spend hours together just hanging out. Isaac came out as gay when he was 15, and shortly thereafter, Diego came out as bi, but they’ve always been just best friends. They have big plans to attend Atlanta’s Teen Pride this summer, and get tickets to the biggest Con around, so that Diego can pitch his ideas for an inclusive video game, and Isaac can meet the creators of his favorite comic book couple.
But things go awry when Isaac misses the ticket purchase deadline because he’s flirting with an old crush, who has recently come out as bi. And he really doesn’t want to think about college because Diego has decided to take a gap year to work on his video game idea and Isaac isn’t sure how he can go to college without him. He’s crushed that he has ruined Diego’s chance to meet a game executive, and isn’t thrilled when Diego tries to include him with his group of video game friends, taking him out of his comfort zone with new people. Things seem weird between them when Isaac makes plans to meet up with his crush at Teen Pride, and he’s not sure how he can fix it.
Not only are the two main characters queer, but many of the supporting cast are queer, fat, or neurodiverse, as well. Alix Jin, the girl who is Isaac’s Lex Luthor, and unavoidable at his favorite comic book store, turns out to be asexual, may be on the autism spectrum, and is also a fan of his favorite comic series. Zelda is the nonbinary child of two Atlanta-famous drag queens, who refers to “our Lord and Savior Whitney Houston” and is a famous Instagram cosplayer. Zelda refers to themself as a “fat diva” who doesn’t climb fences, and Isaac notes at Teen Pride that they are “so secure about their body. Their curves, their arms, the way clothes fit on them” wishing he had a bit of that coolness. So it’s fat positive too! Diego’s younger brother is on the autism spectrum, and with Isaac’s anxiety, the neurodiverse are well-represented.
Along the way, Isaac learns how to better deal with his anxiety, mends relationships with his estranged brother and father, and figures out why things have been strange with Diego all summer. Fans of young adult and queer romances, don’t miss this one!