Publishers Weekly
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Two gay men struggling against prejudices in the rural West may conjure images from Brokeback Mountain, but this novel has less to do with unconventional romance than a teenager dealing with unwelcome changes. Bitter about the dissolution of his "normal" family after his father came out three years ago (an announcement that made his mother leave for good), 17-year-old Ben dreads moving from Spokane, Wash., to rural Montana, where his father's partner, Edward, grew up. Starting over in a small town "where gay dudes and their boyfriends don't go over well" looks impossible to Ben. Tracking Ben's transformation from rebellious city boy to hard-working cowboy, Harmon (Skate) digs beneath the stereotypes of gays and rednecks to tackle issues emerging when conservative and liberal values clash. Some of Ben's prejudices about the West prove to be true: Miss Mae, Edward's mother, makes Ben live in the woodshed until he starts obeying her; the Pentecostal next-door neighbor believes Ben's family is going to hell. But Miss Mae has surprising complexities to her character, and Ben, itching to save the neighbor's son from obvious abuse and what seems to be local indifference, has a lot to learn about appearances. Harmon coaxes readers past some far-fetched plotting (Ben saves lives and rockets to hero status) with skillful, often witty insights into human nature; because his take on people is convincing, audiences will want to believe in his story, too. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved