In Mike We Trust

Book review by
Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media
In Mike We Trust Book Poster Image
Secrets fill engaging novel about gay teen.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Garth lies to his mother and friends; he participates in his uncle's money-making scams even though he knows they are dishonest. Mike says he gambles for a living; he involves Garth in several illegal scams asking people to donate to bogus charities. When Garth comes out to his mother, she asks him to "put the topic on hold" until he's older and more capable of dealing with it. After he calls a support line, his mother angrily tells him that "if you respect me, you'll stick to your promise" not to tell anyone. His uncle is more supportive and takes him to a gay bookstore. Garth and Lisa volunteer every week at a dog shelter. Lisa breaks up with a guy because he called her gay friends names. Adam's father is uncomfortable with his son's sexuality.


The boyfriend of a woman Mike cons shows up at Garth's house to beat up Mike. (Mike disappears and Garth's mom tells the boyfriend to leave.)


Garth and Lisa watch boys and comment on their looks. Cleaning up graffiti on a bathroom stall at work, Garth says he "couldn't imagine having sex with a total stranger and certainly not in a restroom." He wonders if he will die a virgin. A gay bookstore has a lot of "racy" stuff with photo books with half-naked men; "Garth wanted everything his eyes fell on." His uncle grabs a handful of free condoms and tells him he doesn't have to have sex but to use one if he does. Adam and Garth share a first kiss. Lisa's brother gets his girlfriend pregnant; her parents offer to pay for a "you know what."


"Fag," "bulls--t," "damn," "hell," "ass," "son of a bitch," "crap," "bastard." A couple people flip off Lisa when she takes their pictures.


A few mentions of specific brands, such as fictional characters (Superman, Scooby-Doo), companies (FedEx, PayPal, eBay), food (Tootsie Pops, Milky Way), and cars. Garth wants to spend some of the money his uncle scammed -- "Just a hundred? Who would know?" -- but his friend Lisa keeps him honest. (He gives it to his mom, who plans to donate the money.)

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Garth's mother asks Mike if he is dealing drugs; he tells her he's cleaned up his act and doesn't even smoke cigarettes or drink anymore.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book features a series of con jobs where the main character and his uncle bilk people out of their money in the name of bogus charities. Garth is gay and shares a kiss with a boy he likes. Part of the novel is about Garth's struggle to gain his mother's acceptance of his sexual orientation; she wants him to "put it on hold."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bycristianh84 February 4, 2012


i think this is a great book and sends a positive message on accepting your child for who they are
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 November 13, 2009

Not for young teenagers.

I haven't read this book, and I don't plan on reading this book, but judging by the review this sounds like it is NOT for kids.

What's the story?

Fifteen-year-old Garth is dealing with his father's recent death, the challenge of being short, his mother's over-protectiveness, and his realization that he is gay. When his footloose Uncle Mike shows up, Garth welcomes his friendship and easy acceptance of his sexuality. Even after Garth realizes his uncle is lying to him and everyone else, he has a hard time breaking free. As the deceptions build, he jeopardizes relationships with all the people he loves, including a new boyfriend.

Is it any good?

Even as Garth's lies pile up in IN MIKE WE TRUST, readers know he's a good guy. Garth's transformation into a willing accomplice is believable -- he is confused after his father's death and figuring out his sexuality -- but the author doesn't excuse it. "I made my own choices," Garth tells his best friend, Lisa.

Mike and Garth's mom are three-dimensional, imperfect characters who both help and hinder Garth's coming-of-age struggles. Whatever their own sexuality, readers will likely identify with Garth's first awkward date and his close, frank friendship with Lisa.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Garth and his mother approach honesty. Garth blames his mom for his lying because he insists she started it by asking him to hide his sexual orientation. How important is always telling the truth to your family?

Book details

  • Author: P.E. Ryan
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • Publication date: February 17, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
  • Number of pages: 321
  • Last updated: July 13, 2017

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