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SPROUT by Dale Peck

SPROUT

By Dale Peck

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59990-160-2
Publisher: Bloomsbury

When he was twelve, Daniel’s dad packed the two of them up and moved from New York to Buhler, Kan. Daniel embraced his outsider status with the help of best friend Ruthie, dyed his hair green and accepted the nickname “Sprout.” The summer before his junior year, English teacher Mrs. Miller coaches him for a statewide essay contest; in prepping, Sprout begins to acknowledge his secrets (both public and private). Everyone knows his dad is an eccentric alcoholic and that his mother died of cancer in New York. Everyone suspects Sprout is gay, but no one imagines his purely sexual relationship with school hunk Ian. When Ty, the damaged son of a Timothy McVeigh–loving nut, enters Sprout’s life, everything gets shaken up. Peck’s first aimed squarely at the YA audience is, at times, charming. Sprout’s narrative voice is strong and realistic, and his observations are entertaining. As a whole, though, there’re just too many issues. Add to the above: dating parent, teen pregnancy, betrayals of and by friends. Dedicated readers, especially young gays in the square states, will identify—and it’s important enough for that reason. (Fiction. YA)