Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

Found via: BBYA 2010 nominations

The final list of BBYA nominees has been posted...and I've only read 30 of them! Well, 31 now. Still, not nearly as many as I had thought. BBYA titles are probably going to take over my reading list for a little while.

Vast Fields of Ordinary takes place over Dade's last summer at home before he moves from Iowa to Michigan for college. Brief side note here: as a Michigan native, I have to respectfully disagree with Dade's father, who also attended the fictional Fairmont College in Michigan, who says that "Michigan is always beautiful." Sure, it has it's moments, but nobody thinks the place looks beautiful in the middle of a February thaw. Or alewife season on Lake Michigan. "Always" is an overstatement that I'm sure my fellow Michigan peeps will agree with.

Okay, aside over.

Dade's life is less than awesome at this point - he has a boyfriend, Pablo, a super popular member of the football team, that won't look at Dade outside of the bedroom. Pablo also has a girlfriend, who hates Dade's guts, even though Dade is reasonably sure she has no idea what is really going on between him and Pablo. Everyone at school as always assumed Dade is gay, but he's never really confirmed or denied the allegation. The marriage of Dade's parents is also falling apart as his dad starts seeing another woman, and even confides this bit of information in his teenage son, requesting he keep it from his mother.

Life begins to turn around for Dade when he meets two new people: first is Lucy, the lesbian niece of one of Dade's neighbors, who's been sent to Iowa from California to keep her away from the bad influences out there. The pair immediately bond over the Jack and Diet Cokes they sneak during a neighborhood barbecue. The other new friend is Alex, a local pot dealer, who Dade falls for at first sight and, with Lucy's encouragement, pursues for a relationship. A relationship which sparks an irrational jealousy in Pablo, but that doesn't particularly bother Dade: he's finally happy, which is something he never felt with Pablo.

This is a quiet, easy going novel. There are few surprises, except maybe for how Pablo reacts to Dade finding someone new, but really even he follows the "jealous, borderline abusive, ex-boyfriend" trope that's seen in non-LGBT-focused books all of the time.

I absolutely loved Lucy, but that's probably because I have a soft spot for rebellious lesbian characters.

All of the characters are well drawn, and there was nothing that I really disliked about the novel, but I also feel like it's one that isn't going to stick with me forever.
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