These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org


Publishers Weekly

PW Reviews 2009 May #2

This debut novel is deceptively quiet—the story of a recent high school graduate, Dade, struggling to come out and yearning to get to college and away from his parents’ marital troubles and stifling suburban peers. Yet in the same way that Sarah Dessen allows readers to lose themselves in the ordinary, Burd takes a familiar plot—boy struggles with his sexuality, then meets a love interest who changes everything—and makes it fresh. Dade’s inner monologues and interactions with others feel real, and bear a poignant honesty (after shopping for college: “It occurred to me that these things made of plastic, glass, and metal would become the foundation for my new life”). With the arrival of Alex, Dade’s first real boyfriend and one catalyst behind Dade’s coming out, the story moves into sweet, romantic territory, which balances some of the deeper, more painful issues brewing in Dade’s life (including his father’s affair and his friend/ex-hookup Pablo’s inner turmoil). The novel’s one flaw is its unsatisfying ending, which feels both melodramatic and abrupt. Aside from this, Burd is an author to watch. Ages 14–up. (May)

[Page 53]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal

SLJ Reviews 2009 June

Gr 9 Up—Dade Hamilton is off to college in August, but until then, he must deal with a boring job in a dull city, his parents’ failing marriage, and a rocky relationship with Pablo, a boy who publicly denies his homosexuality and doesn’t seem to care for Dade except when they are alone. When Dade meets Alex, however, the summer begins to improve. Alex is handsome and mysterious; most importantly, he adores Dade and isn’t afraid to show it. With Alex in the picture, Pablo slowly tries to regain Dade’s attention. What results is a series of dramatic interactions and events that force Dade to examine his emotions, his life, and the people in it. Burd addresses the themes of family, unrequited love, bullying, and sexuality in a fresh and believable manner. His use of language is beautiful; his words paint clear pictures of Dade’s deep and complex psyche. While his homosexuality is an important element of the story, it isn’t the main focus. It’s just a part of his character that readers accept without question. The Vast Fields of Ordinary is a refreshingly honest, sometimes funny, and often tender novel.—Sarah K. Allen, Thetford Academy, VT

[Page 116]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.


Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2

“*Starred Review* It’s Dade’s last summer at home before college and things are looking bleak: his parents’ marriage is disintegrating; his father has a girlfriend; his mother is self-medicating with pills and booze; his sorta boyfriend, Pablo, refuses to acknowledge the nature of their “friendship”; the local media are obsessed with the mysterious disappearance of an autistic little girl; and Dade himself is feeling pretty lost and invisible, too. But then he meets the dangerous yet fascinating (and unapologetically gay) Alex, and things take a turn for the better . . . for a while. Burd’s first novel has some of the trappings of the traditional coming-out-while-coming-of-age story, and his ending seems more willful than artful. Also, some readers may find the subplot about a missing girl more distracting than symbolically resonant. That said, Burd is a terrific writer with a special gift for creating teenage characters who are vital, plausible, and always engaging (even when they’re being mean and menacing). His take on the complications in Dade’s life is sophisticated and thoughtful, especially on the ambiguities of that “relationship” with Pablo, while his limning of the growing friendship with Alex is deeply satisfying, never striking a discordant emotional note. Clearly, Burd is a new talent to watch.” Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

The Horn Book

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall

The summer after senior year, Dade learns a lot about love, loss, and himself. While struggling to get over closeted football player Pablo, he opens himself up to new friendships and the possibility of first love with openly gay Alex. Though the dialogue can be clunky and some characters are underdeveloped, Dade’s poetic moments of self-reflection give the story appeal. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

VOYA Reviews 2009 October

It is Dade Hamilton’s last summer in Cedarville, Iowa, before he leaves for college. Dade has always felt on the fringes, oppressed by the fact that he is gay and still in the closet and in drab Cedarville with its endless procession of strip malls and suburbs. He is in a disappointing hidden relationship with Pablo, a member of his high school football team, and his self-esteem is suffering. But when he is swept off his feet by the charming and considerate Alex Kincaid, who also happens to be a marijuana dealer, he finds himself with his first real boyfriend. At the same time, he meets Lucy, who becomes his first true friend and offers him the support he needs as he gets to know Alex and comes out to his parents. As Dade’s confidence grows and his interest in Pablo wanes, Pablo becomes increasingly aggressive toward him. Finally Pablo wrecks his truck and is killed as he leaves Dade after an emotional confrontation. Dade is devastated but ready to move forward with his life, even though it means leaving Alex behind. Burd does not waste words, and his streamlined prose and stunning imagery make a remarkable impact. His characters are complex and beautifully drawn. Dade tells his story in first person with a raw honesty that causes the reader to empathize with him from the very beginning. His strength, common sense, and generous spirit will be appreciated by older readers, both gay and straight.—Dotsy Harland. 5Q 2P S A/YA Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.

One thought on “The Vast Fields of Ordinary

  1. Pingback: The Vast Fields of Ordinary | Queer Young Adult Literature

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