Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rainbow Road

by Alex Sanchez

Book three in the trilogy!!!

A Post-Graduation summer road trip with Jason, Kyle and Nelson!

Read more about Alex Sanchez here. And add your review of this book in "comments!"

1 comment:

Hayden said...

RAINBOW ROAD is the last book of Sanchez's trilogy, and I must say that it got me a bit choked up in the end, not so much because I won't be reading about Jason, Kyle, and Nelson again, but mostly because of the way the boys matured, making decisions in the end of the novel that made me equally glad and saddened for them. Such is life, though, and as with the two previous books, Sanchez doesn't sugarcoat anything, offering us all the hopes and the fears that can come from young people taking their first tentative steps into adulthood.

I really like the way the boys' stories progressed from the first to the third book in the series. In RAINBOW BOYS, there were the usual fears involving friends, family, loved ones, and social groups and how queer kids ought to handle an incredibly difficult situation without the comfort of knowing who their real allies are in their struggles. In RAINBOW HIGH, the issues expand to include the bigger picture regarding school and the outside world. In RAINBOW ROAD, I was happy to see the issues take on a more internal angle, with the book focusing on the boys' relationships with each other. Side characters come and go, and they help propel the plot forward, but they're mainly there to help raise questions and add some necessary conflict.

We spend most of the time in each character's head, and we're treated to Jason, Kyle, or Nelson's fears and doubts as well as anticipations and hopes. The plot becomes much quieter and more internal, with the boys' complexities taking on more interesting hues and variations of gray shades. Yes, Jason might have hangups about Nelson's flamboyance, but he still can't be completely pinned down as a gay kid with internalized homophobia directed against his more colorful and obnoxiously decadent friend. It's partly true, but Sanchez gives us all sorts of reasons - realistic and understandable ones - for Jason's horror and mortification. Knowing Jason's background as a deeply closeted kid who used to be deathly afraid of having his fellow jocks find out the truth about himself helps us feel sympathy for Jason, not annoyance at his apparent unfairness toward Nelson. One other thing that Sanchez forces us to accept is that these fears aren't so easily eradicated by a kid's coming out. It'll take him a while to come to terms with them, and that's okay.

In that regard, Sanchez weaves really effective cause-and-effect threads that begin in RAINBOW BOYS and continue through the final page of RAINBOW ROAD. As with the other two books, his prose is uncluttered and honest, allowing us to keep our focus on the boys and their maturation. The effect in some cases can be jarring, especially those involving scenes of homophobia such as the beer can assault and the one with poor Esau and his monster of a father. Reading those scenes can be uncomfortable, but those are specific examples of intolerance and bizarre hatred that Sanchez hopes to emphasize as real. And he succeeds in making us squirm. Hate should make us uncomfortable, after all.

The book ends with a good deal of hope not untouched by sadness, though. The boys have grown up quite a bit, and they've made decisions that will affect them for a long time - perhaps all their life. We're left with the thought that they'll be all right in the end, having grown so much stronger from their journey. All the same, I can't help but get all misty-eyed at seeing them no longer as kids, but as smart, strong, flawed, lovely young men.