Cover Image: Just By Looking at Him

Just By Looking at Him

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Member Reviews

I liked the book's candid humor but i am afraid i find the focus on sex to be somewhat boring and repetitive. still, this is a unique ownvoice book and i thoroughly recommend
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What a truly wonderful book just by looking at him is. It’s brilliant,Fab and damn right sexy! I will say it’s a very important read too and Ryan O’Connell has written a book that everyone should read,have all the emotions from reading and come away from this book in the best way possible.
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Absolutely loved this book. Laugh out loud funny, warm and sharply observed it looks at love, friendship, addiction, sex, disability, self knowledge and yet never takes itself too seriously. I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot. There were moments were I found myself chuckling at something then minutes later would be really moved (the relationship between the protagonist and his father is beautifully done). Just a brilliant read.
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I was really excited for this one! I loved Ryan O'Connell's series Special on Netflix and, having cerebral palsy myself, was looking forward to how he'd handle navigating the intersections between disability and sexuality as it's not something we see very often, particularly for queer people. O'Connell doesn't shy away from dealing with taboo subjects in the novel, including sex work and alcoholism, and handles them in a way that is sensitive but also feels totally relevant to Elliott's character.
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I was instantly drawn in by the bio of Just By Looking at Him: I was promised good humour, honest characters and sex. The book absolutely did not disappoint, and I loved it!

Elliot is a television writer in LA, supposedly content with his life (well paid, enviable job; steady relationship with doting boyfriend; solid social life and good friends) but something is missing that is gnawing away at him. He's not as happy as he should be, and even though he's fairly certain it isn't the answer to his problems, he seeks refuge in a stunning sex worker named River. 

River seems to be the beginning of a slippery slope for Elliot, as everything he thought should make him happy was actually just masking his true insecurities and wants in life - cue the collapse of life as he knows it. 

O'Connell has written this book wonderfully. It's brilliantly funny but has deep, dark moments that knock you for six. His approach to the representation of disability in the book (Elliot has cerebral palsy) is insightful and respectful, but unafraid to be self-deprecating in itself. There's lines from this book I have highlighted as being personal favourites of all time - the writing and humour is really a stand-out star in this read. Quality stuff.
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Having seen Ryan O’Connell’s series “Special” on Netflix, I was pretty familiar with his style and much of the storyline is similar. Although Elliott is a character, the voice and thoughts very much come across as Ryan speaking about his experience of being gay and living with cerebral palsy.  
The writing is explicit and frank. It highlights the lack of representation of disabled people as lead characters and Ryan is a humorous and strong voice to examine the issues of being physically disabled in the homosexual community, where looks and body image are often judged.
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I really liked this book, well written with a compelling storyline and well developed characters. I loved the characters in this book, but especialluy Eliott who I felt a real affinity with, he was represented unbelievably well in this book, probably the best representation of a disability that I have read in a book. I am someone who has battled with a hidden disability for most of my life, which i know isn't exactly the same but it gave me small understanding of  what he was going through and so I really related to him and it was such an emotive read beacuse of that. I will definitely be looking for more from this author.
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First of all I wanted to say the disability representation is absolutely wonderful, and it is written so natural and believable.
Second of all, I haven’t seen Ryan’s successful Netflix series but I did always wanted to try it and after reading his debut it gives me a reason to finally stop thinking about it and actually go watch it.
So, I have a lot of thoughts on this.
I myself have a disability and it at times can be considered physically. 
I do have lots of mental health issues and those are disabilities within themselves.
But, my main disability that is often written as physical is my Autism. Mine, more specially, Aspergers.
I won’t go into detail because this isn’t about me or my struggles, but they do relate to the review I’m writing.
They relate because an Aspie character is not usually the default for a main character. 
Not a young adult thriller or a light gay rom-com or a dark, intense dystopian.
The Autustic character is never something that’s been there naturally for years, not the main character and if they are it’s usually a harmful or highly wrong attempt.
As we’ve gone on the years there has been a lot of mentally ill characters, a lot of strange and weird characters, and certainly-which I applaud and say yes to all the time-as we’ve gotten on gay characters are becoming more prominent in bigger and deeper roles in movies, books, and tv shows.
Some are done wonderful, some still feel such aged attempts, and some we don’t even like to think off.
But, for those done great and those done so well it means so much.
Their roles that aren’t cliche, stereotypical, or the way we think gay people are-offensive and often ridiculous ways that they used to appear in movies and still can, sadly. 
Now, we actually have gay actors playing gay characters and now we have gay characters who are more then their sexuality, who have hobbies and passions and dreams. They are main roles for gay characters, and we also have some tv shows that are bursting of all kind of sexualities.
The recent It’s A Sin done it wonderfully which also features not just white gay men but black, brown, and transmen, and I will forever love it for that,
The older cultural explosion Angels in America also done in wonderful and tender and raw, and I will forever love it for that too.
However, search for Autistic characters and you won’t find many that aren’t extreme stereotypes-
mind blowing but extremely awkward genius, a very strange loner who can’t talk to girls, a physically disabled girl who dresses very young and will need medical constant care for life. 
These Aspies do exist but most of the general public only have those ideas in their head if you asked them to described what an Autistic person was.
Where are the ones for us people in the middle?
The genius who is very good socially, the loner h who just wants to spend time alone and doesn’t mind not having friends, the physically disabled girl who is so much more than her younger brain and children’s clothes. 
We are getting better at having Autistic characters not just background jokes or ridiculous stereotypes of caricatures but we still have a long way to come-and so this book, although representing a different disability, is extremely brave, powerful, and tender in itself. 
I thought the narrator had such life to him, but for the rest of the characters I felt they weren’t developed as much and at times I felt the writing was a bit stale.
Those last chapters were written so so beautiful and emotional, those were such great lines of writing and life and I really loved those.
If the rest of the chapters could’ve been as honestly vulnerable, soft, and blossoming as those last chapters that would’ve been wonderful,
I think Ryan wrote in a great steady pace, not too quick or slow, and he had some wickedly funny moments throughout, some heart hammering tense moments at those end chapters, but overall I felt that the writing was too stale and dry despite being funny, it sometimes felt too simplistic in the themes-not by simple themes, I mean that the themes could’ve been developed more.
Overall he got the humour great, he got the disability outstanding, and he got the atmosphere fabulous.
But if everything else could’ve been those last chapters, which I will reread again and possibly highlight lines if I got a physical copy on release date, then it could’ve been an extremely poignant and powerful piece in mirroring a personal favourite, outstandingly successful Vuong’s On Earth
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I really enjoyed this book. Written from a perspective we don't see often I had a blast. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an advanced copy.
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A hilarious, sexy, ground-breaking debut novel about the intersection of queerness and disability, and discovering who you really are. This book is brilliant, really well written, good story which kept me interested from the beginning.
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Brutally honest, funny and poignant look at modern life through the lens of disability. The author has the rare talent of humour and a somewhat unlikeable main  character honed in his perfect tv show on streaming
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I've been keen to read this book since I heard Ryan was writing it and it didn't disappoint. It was such a fresh take on dating and life with a disability. It was unlike anything I've read recently and I was gripped from the very first page. 

Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy. I will certainly be recommending it to friends.
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A totally different book to usual, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything with disability and and gay. A funny book that was good to read. Well done.
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A darkly funny and poignant debut with a queer + disabled protagonist who’s struggling with his stifling relationship, a toxic workplace, addiction and his own internalised issues and prejudices.
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As someone with Cerebral Palsy myself, it was refreshing to read a story with a main character talking and showing a full fulfilling life who also had Cerebral Palsy.

This is very open door, snap shot of someone growing up within their 20’s.
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