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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
"*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."--"Engberg, Gillian" Copyright 2007 Booklist