La Sala, Ryan. “Be Dazzled”, Sourcebooks Fire, 2021.
A Dazzling Story
Ryan La Sala’s “Be Dazzled” is queer love story about creativity, passion, and finding the courage to be who you really are.
Raffy loves sewing, stitching, draping, pattern making so that he can be dazzling. His art is the most important thing in his life and he is determined to make his mark at this year’s biggest competition. He knows that if he can stun there, he could get a sponsorship, then art school, and gain respect for his work. The only problem he faces is that his ex-boyfriend, Luca, is his main competition.
Raffy tried to make things work with Luca. They were almost the perfect team last year or so Raffy thought. However, Luca’s insecurities and Raffy’s insistence on perfection destroyed their relationship. Now, Raffy is ready for a comeback and does not want Luca to ruin it. He is forced to partner with Luca and deal with unresolved feelings for him and his own self-doubt.
Raffy is a go-getter who sometimes becomes hysterical as he works to achieve his goals. Anxiety sometimes takes over when he feels he’s not good enough and that is almost all of the time. His mother is rarely around and does not care about his hopes to go to art school. She doesn’t like his making all of the costumes. Luca is a bisexual soccer player and something of a joker. However, he can’t seem to be comfortable anywhere. He is not out with his sexuality. The boys are very different but also share a lot in common, too; they both like anime and games. However, they have to be careful.
Written in dual timelines, the story moves quickly. We learn about the boys through flashbacks. It is author Ryan La Sala’s voice that makes this such a fun read. The prose is wonderfully descriptive in this lovely and charming story.