Alek thought summer school would be the biggest bump in his summer…if only he’d known.
Fourteen-year-old Aleksander Khederian is devastated when his parents break their promise to send him to tennis camp over the summer, but even worse is that they are forcing him to go to summer school just so that he can stay on the honors track. This, like traveling across town to a specific church or avoiding all things Turkish, is just part of being an Armenian-descended American. When his best friend, Becky, surprises Alek with an unwanted, passionate kiss and he reacts badly, he knows the summer is going to be lonely and awful. Then Ethan, a cool, skateboarding junior also in summer school, “kidnaps” Alek for a day trip by train to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City. Ethan, who’s out to his skater friends, opens up a whole new world for Alek, and their friendship becomes a relationship. How will his traditionally minded family handle this? Alek is pretty sure it will be awful. Barakiva’s debut is well-wrought and realistic within its Northeast context, and it’s entertaining without sliding into easy gags or melodrama. Despite a too–neat-and-happy ending, it deftly draws strong parallels between homosexuality and ethnicity that will resonate with audiences.
East Coast teens will see themselves; Midwesterners will feel a little envy. (Fiction. 12-16)