An unsubtle and old-fashioned exploration of homophobia.
The football team is grossed out when Alan, flamboyantly effeminate, transfers to their high school (cue a relentless stream of homophobic jokes). The novel’s narrator, varsity player Adonis, battling a negative body image from chubbier days, is no exception. His homophobia is nurtured by his firefighter dad and frowned on by his teacher mom and sister Jeannie, the school’s Fashion Club VP and Alan’s friend. That Alan, the club’s sole male, is its president goes unnoticed; gender bias is beyond the one-issue scope. Alan’s dad is an Army colonel and clueless bigot. Manliness here equals homophobia; the one tolerant male adult is Adonis’ hippie, ponytailed English teacher. Adonis’ dilemma propels the action. (Oddly, he’s never teased about his name). Melody, the girl he’s pursuing, believes, approvingly, that Adonis belongs to the pro-Alan faction. Adonis’ football-team peers will reject him unless he treats Alan with ridicule and contempt. Chief among these one-dimensional stereotypes is Alan—kind, noble and the dullest drag queen ever to wear dresses and lipstick. Is he gay, transsexual, cross-dressing or questioning? We’re never told. Nuanced distinctions of character don’t exist in this curiously retro world in which no one watches Glee and gays in the military aren’t on anyone’s radar.Weighed down by earnest good intentions, this tale of high-school homophobia falls flat. (Fiction. 12 & up)