For the month of June, yaReads will be featuring books and resources specifically for gay and lesbian teens and readers of gay and lesbian teen books. This is the first of many reviews that are scheduled to appear this month. Rainbow Boys is the first book in a three part series.
Jason Carrillo is one very confused kid. On the one hand, he’s got it made. He’s the star of the basketball team and is most likely heading to college on a basketball scholarship. He pulls good grades and he’s also got one killer hot girlfriend. He’s been dating Debra for almost two years now and everyone thinks they’re the ultimate golden couple. That would all be totally perfect if it weren’t for one thing: Jason thinks he’s gay. To some kids, that might not be a problem, but for Jason it’s the mother of all problems. You see, Jason’s dad is seriously homophobic and Jason knows that his father would never accept a gay son. Life at home is already hard enough, what with the way his parents fight all the time, and Jason doesn’t want to cause his mother any additional stresses on top of the ones she’s already dealing with. And what about the kids at school, his friends, and his team mates? How would they react to his being gay? Life for Jason is painfully confusing.
But then he starts hanging out with Kyle. Kyle is gay – and everyone knows it. Kyle is soft and kind but also fiercely protective of his and his own. Kyle believes that he shouldn’t have to hide who he is … so he doesn’t. He’s also had a huge crush on Jason Carrillo for ages, so when Jason starts hanging out with him, Kyle can’t believe his luck. He didn’t even know Jason was gay, but he showed up at the gay youth group meeting so he has to be, right? Well, he sure hopes so. Suddenly, Kyle decides to make it his business and he provides a safe, comfortable space for Jason to be honest with himself about who he is. The events which unfold leave Kyle feeling a little spellbound.
Nelson, however, is less than happy about Jason’s appearance in Kyle’s life. Nelson and Kyle have been besties forever, not to mention Nelson has been in love with Kyle for almost as long as they’ve been friends. But Nelson isn’t like Kyle and he’s not like Jason, either. He’s an individual of great colour and personality who is totally unapologetic about everything and anything. Nelson is emotionally rock solid. He refuses to let people pierce his rainbow heart, but how will he deal with this new third wheel that seems to be entering his precious twosome?
As their worlds collide, Rainbow Boys documents the events with profound emotional maturity. Alex Sanchez is a gifted writer whose vibrant, dynamic characters and keep-it-simple prose will have readers turning the pages at an impressive rate. I read Rainbow Boys in just a couple of hours, and then went straight back to the beginning and started again. Because each character is at a different stage of their emotional development, there is something for almost any adolescent reader. While these boys are quite clearly gay, I believe the messages that are delivered are universal ones applicable to all society regardless of sexuality. Gay kids need more resources like this available to them, and straight kids need access to more books like this so they too can understand, love and respect gay people and their relationships in the same way that straight people expect society to treat their relationships.
The message is simple folks – peace, love, unity and respect.