In this addition to the Roosevelt High School series, Tommy and several of his friends decide to form a new club, the Gay Straight Alliance. Tommy had come to terms with his homosexuality earlier in the series, but still struggles with the distance his sexual orientation has created between himself and his father. He is also concerned about a new student at Roosevelt who, rumored to be gay, has been harassed and once even beaten up badly enough to require hospitalization. As Tommy and his most supportive friends—both gay and straight—work toward increasing understanding and tolerance at their school, a parallel plot line develops the family life of one of the teachers, who suspects that her brother, who committed suicide in high school, may have done so because he was secretly gay.
Read Related: How to Handle the Topic of Homosexuality with Children
Velásquez’s pages move quickly and easily with a breezy style that almost makes readers feel like they are overhearing another’s conversation. In some ways reminiscent of a TV after-school special from the 1970s, the narrative raises issues and problems in order to solve them, intent both on telling an interesting story and encouraging readers to believe in and work toward better days. Readers who desire a more in-depth and literary treatment of the difficulties of accepting oneself and coming out as a gay young man—especially perhaps in a Latino family—might turn to Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Nonetheless, Velásquez’s short novel is earnest without being cloying, and a quick read well suited for reluctant readers.
—Reviewed by Cooper Renner, Retired Librarian, El Paso Public Schools