Rating: 4 stars out of 5
It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.
Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.
Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.
I well remember the eighties. I know I’m dating myself, but as my reviewer name says, I’m a zany old lady. I got that way from living through those eighties. Just kidding. But I do have a very close friend who realized he was gay in his early teens and couldn’t tell anyone in our small, homophobic hometown. He visited Chicago with his twin brother and a friend when he was eighteen and when he graduated from high school, he took what I now know was a courageous leap of faith and moved there alone. He’s been with his partner since the mid-eighties and I can recall keeping him in my prayers when the AIDS crisis peaked.
This is a young adult story featuring two young men, Cody and Nate, who I totally fell in love with. Their story made me think of my friend all while I was reading. Each had a different family background and set of circumstances, yet fate brought them together at a time when gay men were still in hiding in most of the states, and most definitely in a rural territory in Wyoming. There are so many very, very sad times in this story. It’s definitely not fluff. But it’s also not something that I would pass up, no matter how tough it got. Marie Sexton never fails to reach down deep in my gut and wrench up all the feels I try to keep hidden, and she does it with such finesse, I can easily forgive her.
John Solo’s narration was spot on. Two weeks later and I can still hear their voices and feel their pain, and of course, their moments of joy. Cody and Nate’s story is not to be missed and the audiobook format is wonderful.
Cover art by Jay Aheer is poignant and quite wonderful.
Listening Length: 9 hours and 43 minutes
Audible Audio, 10 pages
Published October 19th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published March 21st 2016)
Edition Language English