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Summer Book Award: Favorite General Fiction

When I first read this book, I had already read the author's Rainbow High series about these high school guys (two are gay and one is bi) who are going through school dealing with all kinds of issues: one who is openly gay, one who is trying to figure out whether he's gay and one is trying to figure out whether he's gay or bi. I liked the series a lot because in many ways I could identify with some of their struggles, both internal and with other classmates. The Rainbow books seemed to be written specifically for a high school audience or people who enjoyed reading books for this age-group. They are fun to read and you can just breeze right through them.

However, the book I decided to select as my Favorite General Fiction for 2011 is by the same author:

by Alex Shanchez

This book is written in a very different tone than the Rainbow series. It's much more serious in tone and you almost get the feeling it's a different author from the high school books.

It's really hard to talk about this book without giving away the whole story. I'll try though.

The lead character is this 16 year old kid named Diego who is always managing to get into some serious trouble at school. Diego (who is straight) thinks one of his gay classmates looked at him "funny" one day and Diego gets into this really bad fight with him. Diego has a history of trouble already following him and this incident is the last straw. Charges are filed against him and he ends up on probation. 

Even though Diego is clearly in the wrong here, you start getting this feeling there's more to his story that might explain why he has this anger problem. He absolutely won't open up to anybody about what's really going on.

Well, he gets assigned to this really cool Probation Officer named Vidas, and Diego slowly starts trusting him... I mean, very slowly trusting him. Diego eventually asks his PO if he can meet with him once a week to "just talk," which is very different from any probationer Vidas has ever had.

Vidas is very patient and understanding and eventually Diego starts talking about this recurring dream he's been having about a shark in the ocean and Diego being the "bait." This dream holds the key to everything going on with him.

One day in the mall, Diego happens to run into his PO with his partner (yes, his PO is gay) and their child. Man, you hold your breath worrying about whether this is going to be a deal breaker for the progress they've been making. I won't say anything more and I hope I haven't given away too much.

You really don't know till close to the end whether Diego is going to make it or not. All I can say is this is a VERY powerful and emotionally draining book, and I mean the "draining" part in a good way. I mean, you feel like you've been on this almost dangerous journey with Diego and you start getting inside his head like you're going through this with him.

All I can say in summary is, if you want to read about an extremely brave and courageous kid and a Probation Officer who renews your faith in the goodness of the human spirit, grab this book! It's fast-moving and an easy read, though the subject matter is very heavy.

Feel free to comment on your favorite general fiction book. And be sure to stay stuned tomorrow as we both agreed on our Favorite M/M Romance Book!
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