'The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge' - Queer Joy and Friendship

"The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge" by Matthew Hubbard.

“We’re here.” Those are two words the burned like a fire inside of Matthew Hubbard as he wrote "The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge" in a time when Florida has been targeting the LGBTQ community via the "Don't Say Gay" law.

What was your inspiration behind your most recent book?

The inspiration behind my debut novel "The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge" is none other than the fabulous 90s film "The First Wives Club." The idea to capture its essence for a queer YA audience came about during a movie night with my husband. The nuanced storytelling of characters evolving from revenge to starting a nonprofit to help women sparked my creativity. As someone who has been heavily involved with nonprofits, the ending of the movie left me feeling hopeful because I knew the good these characters would do after the credits rolled. That sense of hope is what I wanted to capture by having my characters challenge anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives in schools.

What does Reading Rainbow mean to you?

To me, Reading Rainbow is about accessibility to books and characters with LGBTQIA+ voices. This allows readers, whether they’re part of the queer community or are allies, the opportunity to better understand the world. By ensuring stories like these are accessible, it also gives readers a chance to expand their perspective, and by proudly reading these stories we’re gaining more empathy and understanding for journeys outside of our own.

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to   writing books? 

Representation on the page allows readers to come of age and come into their own unique identity without embarrassment or shame. Seeing themselves represented lets readers know they aren’t alone. It’s crucial for those coming of age during turbulent times when people in power are attempting to repress identities and communities. In fact, coming of age doesn’t have an age limit. Many of us don’t get that experience shown in movies and TV, and many of us don’t realize who we are until well past our teens. Representation on the page for a variety of people expands readers’ perception of the world, and that’s one of the main reasons why I chose to write YA. There are so many people out there struggling as they embark into young adulthood, and I want my stories to be a journey they get to be a part of.

Tell us a little more about the book and why you decided to write it.

“We’re here” are two words that burned like a fire inside me as I wrote "The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge." Florida House Bill 1557, the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, began targeting my community as I started writing this story. I cried tears of anger as events unfolded and turned to the document that would become my debut novel to do the only thing I could: keep hope alive. In "The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge," Ezra, with his friends Lucas and Finley, set out to get revenge on their ex-boyfriends but find themselves silenced by a fictional school district agenda called “Watch What You Say.” However, instead of being quiet like the school superintendent wants, they refuse to let their voices go unheard. I wanted to show these characters, as well as readers, they have the option to fight back in any way they can. It's crucial to empower teens to find their voice and their community while advocating for their rights. It’s more important than ever to show readers that they belong here and are allowed the experiences that come with being a teen: confiding in a best friend about a crush, gushing about a new album from their favorite artist, making mistakes because they aren’t perfect, and even plotting comedic revenge tactics again ex-boyfriends as a way to mend their broken hearts. Queer youth deserve to live their life and experience it to the fullest extent on their own terms.

What can fans expect from your book?

The biggest elements readers can expect in "The Last Boyfriend Rules for Revenge" is not only the characters tackling issues queer teens face but also queer joy and friendship. I feel like the students being targeted by real-life politics are being robbed of their true coming-of-age experience. They shouldn’t have to be concerned with fighting to exist — they deserve to be teens — and I hope readers will embrace this journey and continue to believe in themselves no matter the hate people spew, no matter how many times they are told to sit down when they try to take a stand, no matter how hard the fight becomes.

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

My second book will release next May from Delacorte Press, and it will continue the fight that "The Last Boyfriends Rules for Revenge" started…and these new characters will have a marvelous time being rebels.

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