When Everything Feels Like the Movies

For the first time ever, I tuned into Canada Reads this year. I was blown away by the passionate debate and came away with a few more titles to add to my never-ending TBR list. The theme this year was books that break barriers. Elaine Lui, aka Lainey Gossip, championed Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels Like the Movies. Ultimately this book came in second, but it was the book that I most wanted to read after.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies (WEFLTM for my sanity) is Jude’s story. He is a gay teenager in a small, depressing Canadian town in the middle of winter who dreams of being a Hollywood star. He is bullied at school, and has a train wreck of a home life. Jude’s one friend Angela is a promiscuous girl who keeps a list of all the guys she’s slept with under their favourite booth at the Day-n-Nite. Jude is planning on running away to Hollywood soon but in the meantime, he tells the story of the everyday: his mom’s turbulent relationship with her boyfriend Ray, smoking joints with Angela, his relationship with teacher Mr Dawson, stealing the Glinda dress from the school production when he doesn’t get the part.

Watching Canada Reads, I was prepared not to like Jude. I was prepared to spend some time with a vulgar, narcissistic teenager, dropping f-bombs and generally being an asshole. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with Jude, to want to protect him and show him a different kind of life. I agree with Lainey that the language in this book is supposed to shock you so that you sit up and realize that the life Jude leads, the one filled with homophobia and physical violence, is the life that is led by thousands of young gay teenagers. Jude’s story isn’t an anomaly, his ending isn’t a one-in-a-million. When Jude asks his crush, Luke, to be his Valentine, Luke’s reaction isn’t an uncommon one.

This book broke my damn heart. The last few pages feel like a punch in the gut when you’re already on the floor gasping for breath. There’s a scene near the end when Jude’s little brother climbs up on his bed and makes sure that Jude looks his best that even now makes me cry. His little brother always saw Jude the way that Jude wanted everyone to see him – as fabulous.

It’s a short book but it has a lot to say. The end, when it comes, is fast and furious. I was so angry. I was prepared to be in tears but I wasn’t prepared to be so pissed. This book made me feel so much more than Ru. I think WEFLTM is the barrier breaking book that the whole country needs to read and then discuss so that the Judes in the world have a happier ending.

If you end up reading this book and wanting to do something, please check out Covenant House.

14 thoughts on “When Everything Feels Like the Movies

  1. So glad you liked it. This book floored me. It’s one of those books where, if people are put off by the vulgarity, I don’t think they’re really “getting” it (if you’ll excuse that phrase). The language and the sex and the shock is all crucial to this story. It’s so horrendously beautiful.

    And yes, the scene with the little brother and the nail polish … heart wrenching.

    • “Horrendously beautiful” – yes. The language of this book shocks people so much but they need to open their eyes because this isn’t just a story. This happens to people. My hope is that the strong language makes it stand out in people’s minds long after they read it. And that banning it only makes young people want to read it more. Maybe I wouldn’t buy it for my 12 year old but if my 12 year old found it through friends or at the library and was reading it, I would read it too, to help them understand, to talk about it. Closing our minds and hearts to this book isn’t going to change the experiences of the kids experiencing this kind of hate. I think this book forces us to confront it, warts and all.

  2. This finally came in at the library for me (have yet to pick it up). I have been looking forward to it, while also knowing how shocking it might be based on what everyone said on Canada Reads. Now I’m thinking, once I’ve read it, I’ll just refer everyone to your review (and Rick’s, too), since I don’t think I would be able to say it any better than either of you have. I love this review! 🙂

  3. I haven’t heard of this at all- but it sounds like how I felt going into All the Rage. Afraid yet compelled to read and rageful and ready for action when I finished. I’ll brace myself and look for this!

    • Oh excellent, I’m glad to have introduced you! This sounds exactly like a case of a Canadian book not having made the trek over the border. I hope you do read it! Sometimes we need to get angry when we read.

  4. I’ll look for this book as well. It’s very compelling to hear that you went in prepared not to like Jude and then ended up feeling completely different about him. (BTW, the book currently has 2 ratings on Amazon US; so I don’t think it has crossed the border just yet.)

  5. Wow! I already was dying to this book, but your heartfelt review has pushed it over the top. I really like how you said Jude’s story isn’t an anomaly and his ending isn’t a one-in-a-million. Would you say this book should have won Canada Reads?

    • I’ve only read 2 of the 5 books now. Based on that, and since the other book I read was the winner, I do feel like this should have won. It packs a way bigger punch than Ru, it smashes the boundaries and for good or bad, it has an effect on all its readers.

  6. Pingback: When Everything Feels Like The Movies by Raziel Reid | Consumed by Ink

  7. Pingback: Better Late Than Never: 2015 in Review | The Paperback Princess

  8. Pingback: Canada Reads 2017: The Break | The Paperback Princess

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