A trip down Memory Lane
I requested this ARC when I saw that this was set in the 80s. I grew up back then and the main characters in this one would be only slightly older now than I am. I experienced it all.
Smoking was still allowed on planes. Cassettes and recorders. Weird hair. Weird clothes. The panic when AIDS first made a public appearance. Good music! Isn't 80s muisc awesome? ;)
Nate comes from good stock. He moved from Austin, TX to a small town in the boonies of Wyoming when his parents divorced and his father didn't want to stay where his ex-wife was. He doesn't like this town called Warren. In fact, from the moment he arrives he wants to go back to Texas.
Cody grew up in Warren. He lives with his mom in a run down, desolate trailer. They are dirt-poor, money is always short and his mom does everything she can to make ends meet. Cody is also the school's pariah. He is gay and the popular crew makes his life a little harder. When Nate and Cody meet they build an unlikely friendship and get closer than they thought possible. They are in their last year at school and there are challenges ahead for both of them they didn't expect.
This story is as much about friendship as it is about love. Cody also forms a tight bond with the school's most popular guy, quarterback Logan. It was heartwarming to see how Logan had Cody's back, how he didn't care that his new friend was a pariah and gay. In a way it was harder for Nate to crack Cody's surface than it was for Logan.
This story is realistic, the situations in which our main characters find themselves are typical for the 80s and the emotions Ms Sexton evoke hit close to home. The way she describes the hysteria of Cody's grief that goes from laughing to sobbing is amazing. Nate's dad, who struggles with the realization that his son is gay, his confusion - at no time I thought that he loved his son less for it. The people's panic to get AIDS from touching a gay person. I remember that one in particular...when research published their findings that the virus isn't contained in the homosexual communities but can also be contracted by "normal" people (whoever they were back then).
One niggle I had, and it has been mentioned in another review: the prices of goods in comparison to the earnings don't add up. Other than that it was a brilliant, emotional, heartwarming story that ties up all loose ends. Big love.