"Gregory Kirk," by Yorgos KC
Young Adult Gay (M/M) Romance
My review this week is going to be a little different, as it’s on a story available on WattPad rather than a published book. The author reached out to me for a fair and honest review and seeing as how the subject matter and characters were so wonderfully diverse—something I truly believe is not seen enough in modern day literature—I was more than happy to dive in and read.
Gregory Kirk, written by Yorgos KC, is a young adult male/male romance novel based in Greece. The main characters are 17-year-olds in their final year of high school and are navigating the trials and tribulations associated with that age. However, on top of the typical teenage troubles, our hero Gregory also faces an added layer of discrimination thanks to his overt “femininity.” Due to this characteristic, his classmates pegged him as gay long before he was ready to make the announcement himself. Despite the harassment and hateful treatment he receives, he embraces the truth of his nature with commendable strength.
But it isn’t just the bullying and ostracization that Gregory must deal with. There is also a second voice within his head—a friend at times, an enemy at others—who shares in Gregory’s struggles. Because Gregory Kirk, our loveable hero, has schizophrenia.
Upon realizing that this brilliant author planned to tackle not only discrimination against homosexuals, but also the very challenging topic of a negatively stigmatized mental health disorder, I became even more intrigued by the read. I was fearful he would portray the character in a negative light that would only further denounce a disease that, in no way, inherently implies a person is incapable of functioning within society. However, the author did exactly opposite of what I’d feared. Gregory was presented as a smart, solid, dependable, and loving character whose mental challenges only serve to enrich who he is as a person, rather than destroy the readers’ perception of him.
In addition to all of this, the author also takes on the topic of sexual identity and acceptance. Our second hero—Gregory’s love interest, Jimmy Allan—begins the book as one of the only characters who doesn’t abuse Gregory. He smiles at him, makes an effort to say hello any chance he gets, and ignores the mean comments of his fellow “popular” kids when he and Gregory become friends and start to hang out more frequently.
Gregory’s fascination with Jimmy is never hidden, but it takes Jimmy a while to accept that he, too, has feelings for Gregory—both physical attraction and emotional connection. It is within the pages of this story that we get to watch these boys discover lust, love, and personal identity.
I would recommend this story to anyone who wishes to support the diverse writing community. I adore that the author was brave enough to face down such challenging topics and admire his ability to do so without shedding a negative light on the characters. I wish there were more authors out there willing to stray from the expected norms, both in characterization, and in plot.
So, kudos to you, Yorgos KC, for stepping beyond the #ownvoices tag to tackle ideas outside your own struggles. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future. ❤️
Until next time,