Author: Alex Sanchez
Genre: YA, GLBTQ, POC
Rating: 5 out of 5
Summary: (from the back of the book): Paul has dated Angie since middle school, and they're good together. They have a lot of the same interests, like singing in the their church choir and being active in Bible club. But when manuel transfers to their school, Paul has to rethink his life. Manuel is the first openly gay teen anyone in their small town has ever met, and yet he says he's also a committed Christian.
Talking to Manuel makes Paul reconsider thoughts he has kept hidden, and listening to Manuel's interpretation of Biblical passages on homosexuality causes Paul to re-evaluate everything he believed. Manuel's outspokenness triggers dramatic consequences at school, culminating in a terrifying situation that leads Paul to take a stand.
Review: This book gets a 5 from me because of the job it does with a sensitive subject matter. Alex Sanchez includes a note at the back of the book explaining that he is Christian and gay and how much of a struggle that was for him growing up. Sanchez writes of what he knows and he does it really well. The tension in the small Texas town is not between the races (race can only be told by last names in this book and isn't the issue) and not between the fundamentalist Christians and the non-believers (every character is a Christian), but between those who support homosexuals and those who do not.
Sanchez doesn't make this an easy decision for any of the characters, all of whom have very strong convictions. One of the characters who has the toughest time with homosexuality is the main character, Paul, and it is his sexuality that is in question! Sanchez does a wonderful job with bringing out religious issues through lots of quoting of scripture (on both sides of the argument). He shows how society can choose to be caring or frightened and the terrifying consequences when the two ideals clash.