A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book features gay characters, whom the (straight) protagonist befriends and supports by helping form a Gay-Straight Alliance at his school. Characters "hook up," and both the hook-ups and the discussion of them among friends get pretty graphic. There's some swearing, as well as a physical fight between two friends on a school bus.
What's the story?
Inspired by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Carlos asks openly gay student Sal to help with an image makeover, hoping to land the girl of his dreams. Sal agrees -- in exchange for Carlos' help forming a gay-straight alliance. Sal does improve Carlos' room, clothes, and hair -- but more than that, he teaches him how to stand up for himself and what he thinks is right.
Is it any good?
The fun premise may be a bit of a stretch, but author Alex Sanchez effectively captures some realities of high school life. Young teens play around with sex without love, and even nice guys don't say anything when they see someone being picked on. This is Sanchez's first book without a gay protagonist, which may make it appeal to a wider audience, especially straight boys. The casual hook-ups -- which often begin with the Internet -- will shock parents more than any of the gay subject matter, and will certainly give families something to talk about (see our Internet Safety Guide).
This book is thicker than it needs to be, and readers may not care much about some secondary story lines -- like Carlos' mom's relationship. But readers will keep reading for more on sensitive Carlos, whose heart is in the right place even though he doesn't always do the right thing (or fall for the right girl).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about books that deal with gay characters. Sometimes books with these themes get pulled from school and library bookshelves -- what do you think about that? Do you think reading this story could be helpful for other teens struggling with their sexuality?
Lots of characters in this book experiment with Internet dating. This may provide a good opportunity for parents to talk about their own feelings and expectations about their teens' Internet relationships. For more advice, see Common Sense Media's Internet Safety for High School Kids Tips.
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