At 15, Garth is increasingly tired of living a lie. Though he’s come out to his best friend, Lisa, when he tells his mother he’s gay, she insists he keep it a secret. Things then get complicated when, first, Garth’s ne’er-do-well uncle Mike—his late father’s identical twin—shows up and, second, Garth falls in love with Lisa’s openly gay friend, Adam, who has (wouldn’t you know it) honesty issues. The skein of lies gets increasingly tangled when Mike then involves Garth in certain, uh, fund-raising activities that must—like Garth’s sexuality—remain clandestine. In his second YA novel, the talented Ryan (Saints of Augustine, 2007) too often sacrifices motivation and plausible characterization for his sometimes top-heavy thematic development. Nevertheless, Garth is an appealing character; his developing relationship with Adam is emotionally engaging, and Mike’s increasingly outrageous schemes are ingenious and diverting.
from Kirkus Reviews:
When his dad’s twin brother, Mike, crashes into his life with an uneasy bang, Garth feels like he’s seeing the ghost of his father, who died months before in a boating accident. Mike’s enthusiastic presence awakens and invigorates Garth’s somber household by providing both financial and emotional support. Mike even eases Garth out of the closet against his mom’s wishes. Despite these good deeds, Mike obviously has a shady past, and trouble arises when he entangles Garth in a sketchy moneymaking scheme. Ryan’s second novel for teens is complex and very different from the calm simplicity of Saints of Augustine (2007). The plenitude of issues—dead dads, fatherhood, coming-out and friendship—threatens to swamp readers, especially when they hit all at once. The plot burns like wildfire, occasionally feeling preachy. Nevertheless, the characterizations ring true, and Mike’s personality plays a raucously entertaining polar opposite to Garth and his mom’s. A surprising, entertaining and sometimes overwhelming sophomore story of what it means to twist the truth.
from School Library Journal:
Fifteen-year-old Garth Rudd, more comfortable with his homosexuality than his 5′ 2″ stature, is grieving his father’s recent death. Forced to get a job, his understandably overprotective mother has asked him to temporarily keep his sexual orientation secret. When his father’s estranged twin appears for a summer visit, Garth’s trust is easily gained. Secretly Mike helps him navigate the unfamiliar waters of gay relationships by taking him to bookstores and facilitating dates with Adam, a school friend. Before long, Mike exploits Garth’s trust and encourages him to quit his job, lie to his mother, and secretly help him collect money for “charities” instead. Soon the scams become apparent and the teen realizes the truth about his uncle. Now the teen must face his friends and his mother. The author has created a story with a pace that does not falter and a resolution that is realistically achieved. Garth is an appealing character, filled with contradictions, vulnerable while seeking strength, honest with himself but surprised at how easily he is able to lie to others. The author’s use of language, at times brilliantly translucent, provides insightful dialogue. This contemporary coming-of-age story set in Richmond, VA, subtly and clearly provides a fresh perspective on teenage sexual identity by imbedding it into the context of the bigger issue of truth.
from the publisher:
Honesty. He wanted it. He craved it. He could barely remember what it was.
When Garth’s uncle comes to visit, he’s like a breath of very needed fresh air. Mike is laid-back and relaxed—and willing to accept Garth for who he is, without question. For the first time in a long while, Garth feels like he’s around someone who understands him.
But before long Garth is helping Mike with some pretty mysterious things and finds himself keeping secrets from everyone around him. He’s forced to wonder: Is his uncle Mike really who he says he is, and can Garth trust him? More importantly, can Garth trust the person he’s becoming?
P. E. Ryan has crafted a clever and compelling novel that asks the question: How far will you go for your family, to find yourself?