Review: Abroad by Liz Jacobs


Title: Abroad (Abroad #1)
Author: Liz Jacobs
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Queer, Coming of age
Release Date: 27 June 2017

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My rating: 5 stars


Nick Melnikov doesn’t know where he belongs. He was just a kid when his Russian-Jewish family immigrated to Michigan. Now he’s in London for university, overwhelmed by unexpected memories. Socially anxious, intensely private, and closeted, Nick doesn’t expect to fall in so quickly with a tight-knit group of students from his college, and it’s both exhilarating and scary. Hanging out with them is a roller coaster of serious awkward and incredible longing, especially when the most intimidating of the group, Dex, looks his way.

Dex Cartwell knows exactly who he is: a black queer guy who doesn’t give a toss what anybody thinks of him. He is absolutely, one-hundred-percent, totally in control of his life. Apart, maybe, from the stress of his family’s abrupt move to an affluent, largely white town. And worrying about his younger brother feeling increasingly isolated as a result. And the persistent broken heart he’s been nursing for a while . . .

When Nick and Dex meet, both find themselves intrigued. Countless late-night conversations only sharpen their attraction. But the last thing Nick wants is to face his deepest secret, and the last thing Dex needs is another heartache. Dex has had to fight too hard for his right to be where he is. Nick isn’t even sure where he’s from. So how can either of them tell where this is going?


What a powerful, memorable debut! This a quiet and understated, yet unforgettable coming-of-age story of finding yourself and your place in the world.

We have three main characters in this story and an array of their friends who equally interesting and compelling to read. We have Nick, a Jewish Russian immigrant on study abroad in London coming to terms with being gay while falling in love with Dex, a Black British openly gay and broody chemistry student. Then there is Izzy, who brings everyone together and who has her own sexual awakening to deal with. She is like the glue that holds together this circle of friends with different sexualities, backgrounds and life experiences whose lives we follow in the book.

I'd describe this as chatty kind of story, especially at the beginning when Nick meets everyone and is completely overwhelmed by them. As a reader I felt in a similar position, so many new characters introduced almost at the same time was a bit confusing but it didn't last long. They all had unique, distinctive voices I could hear in my head while reading.

I loved how the author made all her characters feel like real people one could meet on the street. I really, really liked everyone of them and very much like I would have wanted desperately to be their friends while also worrying I'm not good enough for them. Nick's anxiety, his fears and doubts, as well as his hopes and dreams, and his youthful confusion and indecisiveness were presented with such tenderness and understanding, made vivid and real, something I could relate on a personal level. Even though my life couldn't have been more different from any of the characters' I could identify with bits and pieces of them all through the story and I find this connection truly magical. This is what I love the most about reading fiction - finding pieces of me in character who are nothing like me on the surface.

While i loved Izzy, (who wouldn't love her?), I also felt distracted by her at times. We got two parallel stories going on at the same time and it made me wonder why this choice as made. I think she deserves the spotlight of her own book. This is just a minor quibble I have and in no way it deducts from the amazing gorgeousness of this nuanced, rich book.

This is a slow-building romance, there is some angst and secrets and confusion and a very tentative HFN at the end. We also get to experience the stress of being in your final year in university, navigating school, family, while finding your own place in the world. learning to take care of yourself but also how to be with someone, how to love and be loved, building friendships and romantic relationships.

Highly recommended read and I can't tell you how excited I'm to read more about Nick and Dex and Izzy and the rest of gang in the next book.

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