Sam is a high school senior who at the age of fourteen had his first gay love affair with Landon. It was intense and flamed out rather quickly for reasons that become clear thru the book. Finally they resume being friends and form a close circle with Meg. Meg is a straight girl from a strong Catholic background who claims to be a Wiccan.
I wouldn’t say the parents of all three are negligent exactly, but they mostly seem to be away from home a lot and the teens have no siblings. The teens are tight friends and, I have to say, it seems awfully idyllic, but it is something to dream about and long for.
Meg is in love with an unreliable guy who keeps jerking her around. Landon is still in love with Sam but keeping it hidden. Sam is lonesome for a boyfriend, but there aren’t many gay guys at his high school. The three friends go off to a favorite meeting place in a cemetery, where Meg casts a spell for Sam using a list of ten qualities he deems essential in a boyfriend. Shortly thereafter he meets and embarks on affairs with a French exchange student, a bisexual indie-rock musician, and an artist, all of whom (like Sam himself) are gorgeous and sexy–oh, and incredibly talented. (Can we not have a book about the poor gay supermarket bagger searching for love? Just sayin’). Over the course of the book Sam and others learn about what qualities matter most, how to get past hurts and disappointments, how there are different kinds of love, and the importance of recognizing and owning up to true feelings. “The heart wants what it wants, so don’t try to bury that” seems to be the central lesson, as well it should be.
Although this Wiccan business is front-and-center, traditional Christian beliefs are treated surprisingly fairly and also given weight.
There is a fair amount of bad language (but no use of the F word, I believe, or “Jesus Christ”). There is a lot of talk about sex, but mostly we are treated to lengthy descriptions of sloppy kissing, hugging, and hand-holding. An interesting thing is that the concept of not having sex until you’re old enough to handle the emotions involved, or waiting till you are married, or waiting for a very special person, is reiterated in several different ways, though it is not touted as necessarily the only viewpoint to have.
The whole world in the book seems to be entirely accepting and approving of frequent gay PDAs. Parents are encouraging. Call me a cynic, but I don’t think we live in that world yet, least of all in high school. But hey, everybody needs a dream world to escape to now and again.
Landon (the spurned original boyfriend) and Travis (the musician) are the most interestingly-sketched, with the other characters really being too perfect and stereotypical to ring entirely true.
I wasn’t wowed by this book, but by the end I thought it had good things to say about pursuing relationships, learning from them, and cutting yourself and others some slack while undergoing the growing pains every human does, whether gay or straight.