Wednesday, August 8, 2018

In the Desert by Elliot Joyce

Can a Navajo trans teen and a nerdy Catholic find the place they belong... and maybe themselves? In the desert, anything is possible…

When Wren came out as transgender before his senior year, it cost him most of his friends. His father hopes joining a Boy Scout troop might help Wren meet other young men his age and be accepted for who he is.

Felipe Nieves wants the new guy in the troop to feel comfortable, and he reaches out to Wren. They become fast friends… with something more beneath the surface. Those feelings confuse Felipe, since his religion considers this a sin—and he’s always assumed he was straight—but he can’t help pining for Wren. Asking him out will take courage, and getting together won’t be easy… but through their friendship, both young men might find their identities… and learn to embrace them in a unique coming-of-age story set against the beauty of the American Southwest.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a very enjoyable coming of age story about two boys (one trans) who find that they are drawn to each other when they meet at Scouts. As we spend the last few months before college with them, we get a good understanding of their thoughts and hopes for the future.

We get to meet both their families and understand some of the dynamics which form the background to their developing relationship. Kyle and Travis are also key to getting Wren and Felipe to admit to each other how they feel – and they definitely add the comedy, as well as Kyle being a mentor to Wren.

A lovely mix of a simple young romance, the complexity of not following the standard paths, and a good appreciation of the way it affects family and friends.

This is a really sweet and innocent feeling young adult romance. It is the story of the unlikely relationship between a gay trans Navajo kid and a closeted Mexican Catholic boy. Both Wren and Felipe are social misfits who find a scout group where they can belong.

I have to admit that I liked the idea of this story more than I liked the actual book. I feel like too many ideas and moments are mentioned but not fully developed. I wanted to know more about Wren’s Navajo culture. I wanted to know more about his sibling relationships. We get some insights into Wren’s experience as a trans teen but I’m not sure we ever properly get into Wren’s head or his heart.

Very few of the characters in this book feel real to me. Wren’s parents say and do the right things. They are nice and good – but they aren’t interesting, and Wren’s family never moves past 80s sitcom family clichés. The teenage characters are alternately far more mature and more kind than real life teens and also more innocent than any high school seniors could possibly be.

Probably because I can still remember dating 18 year old boys, I didn’t ever buy into the nervous hand holding and stolen kisses between Wren and Felipe. This is a sanitised, low-heat romance without much sexual tension between the characters. The result is a sweet and gentle coming of age story. The boys are adorable but not very believable. This is the book I’d lend my mum if she wanted to try a LGBT romance.

ELLIOT JOYCE is a social-media obsessed, selfie-taking millennial and he’s proud of it. He can usually be found in his room playing D&D or in a theater lurking on the catwalks. Sometimes he even writes.

Other notable facts include the fact that he’s bisexual, he cannot juggle, and he regularly trips over thin air. Catch him on tumblr or really any social media, he spends enough time on it.

Connect with Elliot

Twitter  ~  Tumblr  ~  Blog  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of In the Desert by Elliot Joyce to read and review.

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