Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Vast Fields of Ordinary

Burd, Nick. The Vast Fields of Ordinary. New York: Dial Books, 2009. Print.
[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/7840771]

ALA Rainbow List, Fiction (2010)
ALA Stonewall Award, Children's and Young Adult Literature (2010)
Lambda Literary Award Nominee, LGBT Children/Young Adult (2010)

Dade has spent his senior year secretly coming out to inanimate objects and secretly sleeping with Pablo, who won't acknowledge their relationship in public on account of his girlfriend. So when Dade goes to a party at Jessica and Fessica's house in the hopes of seeing Pablo in public, he knows he's setting himself of for heartbreak. Instead of heartbreak, he gets Alex.

I checked out Vast Fields of Ordinary from the library when it won the (first ever) Stonewall Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. I got about halfway through when I realized that this is a book I just had to own, so I returned it to the library and bought my own copy. Which promptly got lost in the TBR shuffle. Still, I'm not sorry I purchased this book even though it meant postponing the "real" reading of it for a year. It's just about everything I've been looking for in a contemporary YA fiction novel about a queer teen and I couldn't bear to not have a copy to mark-up, loan out, and make a home for on my bookcase.

This book is not all about the gayness, and I love it for that.*

The summer after senior year and before college is a summer of huge changes for a lot of people. For Dade, it means the end of an unequal and often emotionally abusive relationship. It's also the summer of finally having a best friend (Lucy!), drunken parties, extreme haircuts, and a hot new boyfriend who ::gasp:: holds his hand in public. He also becomes obsessed with a local girl who has gone missing and watches his parents' marriage continue to crumble. In short, this is an almost typical teen romance novel with a few Important Issues thrown in. But Dade's sexuality is not one of them.

Dade's crush and following romance with Alex is so sweet. It's not perfect, Alex is a drug dealer after all, but they make it work. The fact that Dade has someone to gush about this new relationship with in Lucy doesn't hurt either. He starts to fall in lurv in a way he never could with Pablo. He introduces Alex to his parents, fails to see the disasterous consequences of having the name "Dade" and becoming involved with someone who's last name is "Kincaid," and generally plans out the rest of their happy lives together. And those plans may or may not work out.

Just like any other YA romance. :)

Book source: I bought it at the always wonderful Giovanni's Room and then, as I mentioned earlier, got it signed!

*Looking through the LGBTQ books I've reviewed here, there are only one or two where the main character is queer and where one of the main conflicts of the story is not the character's sexuality. They're still great books, but there needs to be books where some of that has already been done and the character is just out living life. This book includes Dade coming out, but that's not nearly as important as his healthy relationship with Alex.

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anachronist said...

You got a new design? Very spring-like!

YA romances leave me bored and I am not very sure I would like to try their LGTB variant. I like reading your reviews though!

Lawral the Librarian said...

Thank you! "Spring-like" is much more flattering than "obnoxiously green." Although, to be fair, I've only gotten that from my mom who is still horribly disappointed that I like anything other than blue. :)

I'm not usually a huge fan of YA romances either, but I picked this one up because of the award. I think what made it work for me was the combo of romance and Dade's preparation for college. That last summer before leaving home is often a tumultuous one (especially if you're planning inventing a new college you) whether you're in the midst of a new lurv or not. I think Burd captured that perfectly!