When Sandy Nixon’s conservative Catholic parents discover he’s had sex before marriage, they are furious. But when he blurts out he’s bisexual, they go ballistic. After they threaten him with conversion therapy, Sandy does what many queer kids long to do—leaves his homophobic parents in the dust. He moves in with his Uncle Phineas and Phineas’s partner Cody in Portland, Oregon, and is finally safe to be himself. Sandy misses his siblings, though, and decides to visit his former home in Rockford for Thanksgiving. On the train, he runs into Jade Byrne.
As the only out gay kid in their Catholic high school, Jade has stared down homophobes while being fabulous in the school musicals. He’s crushed on Sandy for years. But he’s made sure never to show it, even after they had a onetime hookup, because Sandy’s the good Catholic kid, the altar boy, and the apparently straight athlete—all the things Jade isn’t. Traveling back to Rockford together sees the start of a month of adventures, a blossoming attraction, and a chance for Sandy to learn what it means to have a family that hurts and to choose a family that heals.
This is the third book in the series and though I think the author gives enough background information that this could be a standalone, I think it’s much better read in order.
Sandy is Phineas’ nephew who escaped a Catholic “conversion therapy camp” in Illinois to live in Portland with his out and proud uncle when he told his family he was bi-sexual. He met Phineas’ now boyfriend Cody on the train and in fact introduced the lovers to one another for the first time.
Now he and Cody and Phineas are headed back to Illinois for Thanksgiving and Sandy is reviewing the last few months of his time in Portland. He had met a boy – Dare – at the skatepark and the two had been dating for four months when suddenly Dare disappeared without a word. Now he’s back, but not in contact and Sandy is a bit heartbroken.
But… on the train back home he re-connects with Jade, a boy from high-school who gave Sandy his first gay experience. As the two start to talk Sandy realizes he had more than a passing thing for Jade and vice-versa but do they have enough to make it work from different cities after having only a brief time together over the holidays?
So you gotta take this story with a whole block of salt. First, you have to just accept that things can move really fast – Sandy is 19 after all and people tend to “fall in love” pretty quickly at that age. You also have to accept that some people have really big hearts and an extended “family” that can be “perfect” when the time calls for it.
I loved Jade – he’s a great character and my only real problem with this story is that we didn’t get to see a lot of him in this story at all. In fact, we spent more time on bemoaning the loss of Dare and then the dramatic ending that involved helping Dare out of trouble than actually developing the relationship with Jade and Sandy. (Doesn’t he look super cute on the cover?!)
It was great seeing Cody and Phineas again and their little surprise at the end was so very sweet, but I’m not sure that made up for the fact that I really wanted to spend more time with Sandy and his “love” rather than all the time we spent with Dare – who is probably going to star in his own story next.
(I also thought it was RIDICULOUS that Phineas would allow Dare to stay at his condo without Sandy when it’s so very clear that he’s in a world of hurt and not able to make good choices…)
So, while I enjoyed the heck out of this story and will gladly continue on with the series, I can’t help but feel bad that Jade got a little cheated out of his own love story and instead Dare stole the show.
My only hope is that we see more of Sandy and Jade in the next story as compensation J
3.5 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review