A young man learns about Pride, tolerance, and acceptance in this heartwarming debut.
Iowan Jeremiah usually enjoys spending summers with his father, Al, a construction worker who lives in Minneapolis. Except now those summers include Al’s new boyfriend, Michael, a man with highlighted hair who drinks organic teas, rides around on a unicorn-themed bicycle, and comes across as way too gay for Jeremiah’s taste. As the summer progresses, Jeremiah’s friendships with Sage, a girl who lives close by with her moms, and Mr. Keeler, an older, gay next-door neighbor who shares his love of gardening, help him rethink his view of Michael and his beliefs about masculinity. Klas’ novel is a timely salute to the evolving picture of a traditional American family. The author’s mastery of this subject matter is evident in the smallest details of the world he creates, from the urban smells of a big city and the spirit of a Pride festival to Jeremiah’s angst over Michael’s use of nicknames reserved for his parents. Arroyo’s black-and-white cartoon illustrations give further texture to the story. Through Klas’ eminently likable young protagonist, readers enter a space where homosexuality and bisexuality are thoughtfully discussed and traditional ideas of masculinity are explored and challenged. The cast is default white, but the diversity within the LGBTQ community is thoughtfully presented, including in the persons of Sage and her mother Lisa, who are Hmong (Sage was conceived via artificial insemination).
Touching and unforgettable. (Fiction. 9-13)