Genre: LGBT YA
Russell Holmes is sixteen years old. He’s gay, and he’s in love. Or at least in deep appreciation for Paul Ryerson, a classmate with a handsome face and a kindly vibe. Despite Glee, the internet, and wishes sent to a genderless almighty, Russ has no idea how to get a date with another high school boy.
Enter Tina, his longtime friend and fast-food co-worker. Tina has romantic troubles of her own with her off-and-on boyfriend Randy. This does not stop her from having total faith in Russ and his chances for romance. She suggests running cross-country with Paul, who hopefully is… not straight. This way, the guys will have time alone. Russ agrees, to the shock of Sam.
Sam and Russ have been high school buddies for years. They’ve always played on the volleyball team together. Russ hasn’t told Sam he’s gay, and doesn’t plan to, especially when he sees how angry Sam is when Russ quits to run. Russ is bewildered by Sam’s reaction until Sam loses his cool and kisses Russ. Russ does not return his feelings, and is too unnerved to stand by Sam when he comes out to the school in dramatic fashion. After Sam decides to prove to a bully that he’s not afraid – by blasting him in a fistfight – Russ gives up on his partner in crime. Distance is easy. Sam is suspended for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Paul and Russ have grown closer. Paul does not think of himself as gay, but likes Russ, and the two become secretly involved. The longer their relationship continues, the stronger their feelings are, and the more conflicted Paul becomes. Paul loathes the idea of offending anyone and can’t bear the thought of crossing anyone’s belief system. Russ is unencumbered by such worries. Their differences desperately frustrate Paul, who lashes out at Russ. Soon they are no longer speaking.
Feeling lost, Russ uses a report-card drop off as an excuse to see Sam. Their old chemistry is reignited, and Russ is grateful. Sam is passionate, funny, caring, and hotheaded, and Russ loves him for it. Paul tries to approach his former boyfriend, telling him Sam means complications for Russ. Russ knows this is true. Paul admits missing Russ. Russ misses Paul, but does not return to him. Russ does not know if he can handle Sam as a boyfriend in the long run. Still, he is sure of a few things.
Love only chooses imperfect partners. Russ will always be imperfect himself. But there is deep strength in love, a strength he did not know existed in himself, and those around him. Armed with this knowledge, he decides to face each day of his life with his own brand of ragged courage.