Guilt can prove more potent than adolescent hormones when, during your first kiss, the little brother you’re supposed to be watching drowns.
Fourteen-year-old Asher Price lives in small-town Florida with all the average American trimmings: divorced parents, one brother and a broken screen door. Asher’s father left the family and is absent save for his mother’s frequently voiced disdain. A reserved young man, Asher finds escape from his fractured family with a vintage Minolta. Then comes handsome, charismatic Garrett, who triggers stirrings Asher wants to explore. When Garrett and Asher sneak off to share a kiss at the public pool, Asher’s brother drowns. A consequent combination of guilt and religious reflex suppresses any urges Asher has to pursue his attraction to Garrett—or any guy—ever again. Neither as optimistic as David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy (2003) nor as revelatory as emily m. danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012), this novel finds itself in a realistically awkward place between. It’s a study of how sad and treacherous it can be for an LGBTQ teen—or any teen—to achieve self-acceptance. The rhythm of the text often falls into short phrasing, making it read the way photographers might digest their surroundings: in rapid-fire observations of the tiniest details.
A book of subtlety that won’t necessarily change the world but could make a world of difference to LGBTQ teens grappling with identity. (Fiction. 14 & up)