Breaking Boxes by A.M. Jenkins
Charlie Calmont is a loner. Together with his older brother Trent, he gets by after both of their parents are gone. Most of the time Charlie feels lucky: Trent never hassles him, and, for the most part, they get on fine with fish sticks and canned vegetables. The calm disappears, though, when Charlie gets suspended for fighting with guys at school who care more about the kind of shoes he wears than who Charlie is on the inside.
The story explores what happens to Charlie after he befriends one of the guys who tried to beat him up. What is a friend, anyway? How will Charlie, who's never had many friends, know when it's appropriate to open his heart for a new friend or when it's time to shut himself off from the world and act cool?
This novel won the 14th annual Delacorte Prize. My thanks to Johanna Parkhurst for the heads-up on its gay content.
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