These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
PW Reviews 2007 July #3
Adult novelist Ryan (Send Me ) makes his young adult debut with this honest perspective on coming to terms with one’s identity. The story centers around two ex-best friends—17-year-olds Sam and Charlie—supposedly in their high school prime. Sam’s father has moved out in order to “research his book” (but really to stay with his “friend” David abroad), and his mother’s fill-in boyfriend, Teddy, is blatantly homophobic. Sam is attracted to his new gay friend, Justin, but denies these feelings to himself and others. That his father is apparently gay only fuels Sam’s angst (“Can’t you just hear the talk? Sam Findley’s dad’s a homo, and he’s turned Sam into one, too”). Meanwhile, Charlie has his hands full caring for his father, an alcoholic widower, and he smokes pot as an escape. Charlie’s girlfriend dumps him after finding out about his drug habit, and he owes his increasingly threatening dealer $500—money that he doesn’t have. In a surprisingly believable reconciliation, the boys finally confide in each other, learn how wrong assumptions can be and slowly begin to rebuild their friendship. Teens will find both boys’ storylines (and narrative voices) thoroughly compelling right through to the end, which leaves many ends rightfully untied, underscoring the lingering effects of life’s messier moments. Ages 12-up. (July)
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2007 October
Gr 9 Up— This story of estranged best friends Sam and Charlie, both 16, unfolds in alternating chapters that gradually expose each character’s growing set of problems. Charlie has lost his mom to leukemia, and the grieving process seems to have stalled out in dysfunction as his dad leans on alcohol and the teen finds himself owing big bucks to an increasingly surly dealer for all the weed he’s been smoking. Sam’s father recently left his mom to live with a man, his mother is dating a homophobic boor, and Sam is struggling to come to terms with the realization that, apparently, he and his father are both gay. Readers won’t know exactly what drove the young men apart until late in the story when their lives accidentally reconnect on a fateful evening-just as their respective crises peak and they need each other’s support the most. Ryan scores big points for largely avoiding the oversimplifications, stereotypes, and preachiness that sink lesser novels. Instead he’s pulled off an admirable balancing act, crafting a story about the importance of male friendships that is appropriately sensitive while seasoned with just the right amount of authentic teenage testosterone.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Booklist Reviews 2007 July #1
*Starred Review* Teens Charlie and Sam were best friends, until Sam stopped speaking to Charlie. In his first book for young people, Ryan (Send Me, 2006) slowly reveals the cause of the rift in chapters that alternate between the two boys’ viewpoints. Over a Florida summer, each boy wrestles alone with problems. Following his mother’s death, Charlie worries about his shut-in dad, who drinks too much. He escapes by smoking pot, a habit that’s put him into deep debt to a threatening dealer. Sam’s dad lives with his male lover, and Sam, who has been hiding his own male attractions, worries if he is gay, too. When each boy reaches a crisis point, he finally turns to the other. In a less-gifted author’s hands, this novel could have felt crowded. But Ryan offers complex views of family lives, realistic language (including some anti-gay slurs), and convincing characters in Sam and Charlie. Sam’s new romance with another guy is a buoyant subplot; just as welcome is the sensitive story of two teen boys forging a close, honest friendship.
Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2007 October
Former best friends Sam and Charlie are following distinctly different high school tracks. Charlie is a popular jock, whereas Sam prefers a smaller crowd of nonconformists. During the summer between their junior and senior years, both boys find themselves at turning points at home and among their friends. Charlie, whose mother died one year before, has been relying on pot to numb his feelings of grief for his mother and concern for his father, who has turned to alcohol to cope with his wife’s death. Sam, whose parents are divorced, is gradually becoming aware of his homosexuality and his father’s reason for leaving his family. When both boys’ conflicts come to dramatic heads, Sam and Charlie cross paths again and begin to slowly rebuild their friendship. Like Will Leitch’s Catch (Razorbill/Penguin, 2005/VOYA December 2005), this book, whose title refers to the Florida town of St. Augustine where Sam and Charlie live, is a deep but subtle story of male friendship that avoids the type of sentiment that would turn the novel sappy. Although Ryan relies on third-person narration, each chapter provides Charlie’s and Sam’s alternating perspectives on their own stories. Canny readers will notice the gradual encroachment of Charlie into Sam’s story and Sam into Charlie’s. Narrative focalizations aside, it is not the type of novel that screams “boys’ book”; however, it will find readers among those who enjoy the more “masculine” fiction of authors such as Chris Crutcher, Randy Powell, and Ron Koertge.-Amy S. Pattee PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-085811-7. 4Q 3P S
Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.