Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta


Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta. Balzer + Bray, 2022. 9780063157989

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Mack is pining hard for the beautiful basketball player, Karim. As his two best friends hook up with their new girlfriends, Mack gets close to Maz, Karim’s cousin, and prays she can make something happen. Miraculously, this works, and Karim wants to be Mack’s boyfriend! Mack feels on top of the world when his dad suddenly brings the bad news: He has accepted a film project in Scotland, so they have to move away for several months. Mack is devastated, especially since the stoic Karem is hard to read already. Trying to communicate with him through a long-distance relationship is even worse, and Mack despairs that he will lose his dream crush. However, while filming is underway, Mack meets Finlay, the star actor of the movie, and his world implodes. Finlay is gorgeous, confident, and alive – everything Karim isn’t. Romance blooms and tensions flair as Mack must determine how to stay true to yourself and discover the highs and lows of relationships. 

In Weekends, Dean Atta has written a queer romantic novel-in-verse about self-worth and friendship. Mack is a gay, Black high-schooler who still hides his makeup collection from his friends. Karim is Black and still in the closet, and Finlay is white and fully out.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? Compared to Dean Atta’s other work, The Black Flamingo, none of the characters really gripped me. Mack’s story didn’t really interest me because I didn’t feel a satisfying hook to his conflicts and issues. Some of the characters are downright unlikeable as well, because their relationship with Mack is not fulfilling. The prose isn’t as tight and lyrical either, compared to Atta’s previous works. 

To whom would you recommend this book? High schoolers who want to read about LGBTQ+ characters, especially people of color, and teens who like novels in verse. The Black Flamingo by the same author is a fantastic read, as well as other novels such The Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles, Felix Ever After by Kacon Callender, Kings of B’More by Eric Thomas, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. 

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Teen fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Laila Carter, Boston Arts Academy, Dorchester MA

Date of review: July 1, 2022

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