An issue-driven novel chronicling the experiences of a high school senior and his friends as they deal with issues connected to sexual orientation.
Tomás “Tommy” Montoya is a senior at Roosevelt High, previously suicidal and bullied at school because he is gay. The ostracism of gays and lesbians—particularly in Hispanic communities—is a strong theme in the book, though other members of the LGBTQ community are rarely mentioned. When Albert, a fellow student, is badly beaten, Tommy reaches out, sensing Albert is gay and the victim of a hate crime, an action that eventually leads Tommy to found a Gay/Straight Alliance Club. Velásquez paints the issues with a broad brush, portraying the students from the school’s Christian Club as intolerant and giving all characters who display homophobic behavior religious reasoning—an easy polarization that does not line up with reality. Strangely, Tommy’s first-person narration is interspersed with chapters in the voice of therapist Ms. Martínez, an adult, whose story revolves around her suspicion that her younger brother, who committed suicide, was gay. With sometimes-clunky dialogue and minimal characterization, this book is admirable primarily for addressing the plight of gay and lesbian teens in Latino communities.
A decent choice for reluctant and struggling readers, as well as those interested in the struggles of gay and lesbian teens. (Fiction. 14-18)