It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.
Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.
Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.
Wow. So not what I was expecting when I first read the blurb.
There’s so much going on in this book.
First, Nate’s story. He and his dad move to Warren, WY (Nowhere) and it’s a hard adjustment. His mom is still in Austin, Tx. He has no friends. The teeny tiny town is about as different from life in Austin as you can get and the only friend he likes is the town pariah.
Then, Cody. Cody’s mom is all alone, doing what she can to make ends meet. Sometimes things she doesn’t want to talk about. The town knows about Cody and his mom and then… there’s the gay thing. Somehow the little town finds out Cody’s most hidden secret and they won’t let it go. (This is the state that killed Matthew Shepard in 1988.)
At first (over the summer), the two are really close friends. But when school starts, Cody distances himself from Nate in an effort to “save” Nate from being associated with Cody. Well, as time goes on, not only does Nate NOT want to be with the other jerks in town, he longs to be with Cody. He’s not sure why he wants that so badly… at first.
I had such a visceral reaction to this story. I grew up in that town (not literally, but almost – Colorado instead of Wyoming – but the wind still blew all the time, it was cold, there was nothing to do but get in trouble and we didn’t have MTV either!) so I know exactly how it feels to live in a town and your only fantasy is about the day you graduate so you can leave and never look back.
Of course, it’s different if in addition to all that other stuff you have to deal with the threat of gay-bashing and AIDS and losing your parents’ love too…
I thought Marie did an amazing job of letting the fear be real but not crushing for these boys. She gave them some real hope in a way that felt plausible and authentic. God, it would be so easy to turn this story into another Brokeback Mountain, but thankfully we get a HFN – probably a HEA to look forward to. (With one exception… so sad…)
I guess this book just really made me think and be thankful we live in a “different” world now… at least there’s more information out there and resources and less? fear… I hope so at least.
Anyhow, this is a very moving book that is well written and very compelling. There’s not a bunch of sex in it, it wouldn’t really feel right anyway, but there’s a lot of emotion and heart.
I highly recommend it and give it 4.5 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review