Saturday, June 30, 2012

Way to Go by Tom Ryan

Danny's life is going nowhere. He's not confident like his friend Kierce, who has a rule for every situation. He's not laid-back like his friend Jay, who's in danger of not graduating but doesn't really care. Danny wants to be confident and he wants to be above caring about what people think...but he's not. He's pretty sure that he's gay but doesn't want to tell anyone; he's not prepared to deal with the reaction in his small town. He gets a summer job working in the kitchen of a new restaurant. That's where he meets Lisa, a complicated New York City girl with a love for making mixed tapes. If he would fall in love with any girl, it'd be Lisa...maybe it could be Lisa. In a summer of discovery, Danny will come to terms with who he really is and what that means for the rest of his life.

Aside from a few references (like the mixed tape on the cover), it was easy to forget that the book took place in 1994. One thing that kept reminding me was the hateful language and fear that accompanied any mention of gayness. I know that this language didn't end in 1994 (and that it - and worse - continues today), but the language that Danny's classmates use (particularly Kierce) is just...unreal. Except that it was and is real, which is so awful that awful can't even begin to describe it. There were also a few phrases throughout the book that stuck out as sounding more present-day, but since I'm not a linguist (is that even what linguists do? date phrases to a certain time period? If not linguists, who does that? is that a job?), I can't say for sure that they weren't around in 1994. Anyway. Danny's coming of age summer is about more than just his sexuality; he's also discovering who he wants to be as a person and what he wants to do as a career. His relationship with his father is going through changes as Danny becomes closer to being an adult; at the restaurant (and in his off hours), he learns about what friendship is and what he wants for himself. (His younger sister has one of those Vanessa Pike-esque language afflictions that I'm sure must exist in real life but I've only seen in books - she talks mostly in movie quotes. I do like, though, their sibling relationship). This book's Canadian-ness sets it apart from a lot of other coming of age novels, and that's important, because while Canada shares a lot of culture with America, there are some differences. I'm really excited to read more from Tom Ryan in the future.

Check out Tom's website, Tom Wrote That.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Gravity by Leanne Lieberman
Mercury by Hope Larson
The Screwed-Up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson

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