The Understatement of the Year

The Understatement of the Year - Sarina Bowen Graham and Rikker got close in high school. Real close. But having grown up in an environment where religion rules and being sent to a Christian school where all they ever hear is how sick homosexuality is, they never felt much of an inclination to come out.
They were happy together for a while until one night it all fell to shit. Graham takes the easy way out leaving Rikker hanging. And Rikker leaves town without another word.

Five years later. Once again Rikker is moving to a new school. This time ending up at Harkness College where he has been accepted on the hockey team. The team Graham is on a well.

The story develops slowly. The two take a long time dancing around their issues before they even manage to have a normal conversation. Rikker being openly gay and Graham not only in denial but also still carrying the shame with him on how he had bailed on Rikker five years earlier.

Whereas Rikker is strong in his dealings with all the shit he has to take for being gay, Graham is a world-class jackass on quite many occasions. On the plus side, he is at least very well aware of this: “I was going to be eligible for Jackass for the Year for a second year running.”
And towards the end he finally starts realising that his denial and self-protecting shield do nothing but hurt not only himself but everyone around him. And that’s when things really start getting better. Obviously, there is a happy ending to this book.

The secondary characters have a lot of weight in this story. In addition to your usual homophobes, there are some amazing people:
Bella, who is a real friend to Rikker from the beginning and also manages to be there for Graham when he needs here even after he hurt her.
Rikker’s ex-boyfriend Skippy. Loud and proud with his heart in the right place.
And, of course, Rikker’s grandmother who took him in after his parents failed him spectacularly.