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 a gay protagonist who ultimately meets his first boyfriend. Along the way, he has sex with a girl, makes out with a bartender, and dares two girls to kiss. There's also plenty of underage drinking -- at the beginning of the book, Jonathan even has sex when he's drunk -- along with some swearing, and mentions of chain stores and fast food outlets.
What's the story?
Jonathan knows he's gay, but he agrees to pose as the boyfriend of a popular rich girl when she bribes him with a chance to see his favorite pop star in concert: Kylie Minogue. But after fighting with friends -- and falling for a cute boy -- he begins to wonder if he made the right choice.
Is it any good?
The premise is fun but farfetched: A popular girl bribes a gay boy to be her boyfriend, hoping to maintain her social status "by dating the newest, hottest guy on the market." Readers willing to accept it will get drawn into energetic Jonathan's often wacky suburban life. Outrageous characters breathe life into this story -- like his bisexual best friend Carrie, who introduces herself by slapping his booty and shouting, "Oh, baby is this seat taken?!" Readers will have some good laughs along the way (at a Halloween party, for example, he dresses in a Madonna combat costume, but tells his fake girlfriend that he is dressed as an Italian GI Joe).
Be warned: There is lots of mature material -- drinking, swearing, sex -- and the plot follows a predictable path. In the end, Jonathan learns that he can't just play it straight -- he also needs to meet other gay guys, including a first boyfriend.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the growing number of books about gay and lesbian teens. Who reads these books? Is it just gay kids, or do you think straight kids feel comfortable reading them, too?
Do these books present an accurate reality? Do you know kids like Jonathan who are able to be out -- and fairly popular -- at your school?
There is a lot of controversial material here, including Jonathan's drunken first time. If you were in charge of publishing YA books, would there be any topics, behavior, messages, language that would be off limits? Who should get to decide what's right for you to read?
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