When Frederick starts 8th grade in a new state, he falls in with a group of Latinas who call themselves Las Sexy Seis. His new best friend, Xio, has the hots for him, but he only feels tingly when he hangs out with his new soccer buddy Victor. Could that mean he’s gay?
Alex Sanchez is one of the go-to authors for gay YA, and I’d never read anything by him. This audio book is fairly workmanlike, but it gave me the warm fuzzies. It’s told in alternating points of view, Xio’s and Frederick’s. I loved that Xio is Mexican (along with everyone Frederick hangs out with in his new California town) and Frederick is Wisconsin white, and you get to see the ways their lives are culturally different, but it’s never a Big Deal. The parents are three-dimensional. There’s a gay kid who gets picked on, so Frederick knows what’s in store if he comes out, and the book doesn’t try to pretend that Frederick will somehow escape that treatment — some kids (and adults) will be jerks, but both Frederick and Iggy still have friends.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9–Thirteen-year-old Latina chocoholic-chatterbox Xio can’t keep her eyes off blond-haired, steel-eyed Frederick, the intriguing transfer student just in from Wisconsin. At first, the soft-spoken newcomer, unsure of his new Southern California junior high and maybe his own sexuality, doesn’t know what to make of her pursuits. Slowly and surely, Xio charms her way into his life and soon absorbs him into her group of fabulous girlfriends whom she dubs the “Sexies.” Content with this new niche, and his position on a pick-up soccer team, Frederick gradually becomes aware of Xio’s real agenda: to make him her first boyfriend. All the while he finds he can’t keep his eyes off Victor, his soccer buddy. Frederick’s sexual confusion escalates, as do his dodging techniques when it comes to Xio’s advances. However, when she gets him in a closet with her and at last gives him a smooch, things boil up to crises. Adventurous, multifaceted, funny, and unpredictably insightful, Sanchez’s novel drops melodramatic pretense and gels well-rounded characterizations with the universal excitement of first love. The action is described through chapters that alternate between Frederick and Xio’s points of view, and both voices ring true. The author deftly presents portraits of a boy teetering on the brink of reinvention who must grapple against his own fears that he might be gay and the girl–a high-spirited character whom readers definitely won’t forget–who wants him.–Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
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Gr. 5-8. Most young adolescents routinely agonize over questions like “Who am I?” and “What am I?” Sometimes, as Sanchez dramatizes in this story of emotional exploration, the answers are difficult to discover. Newly arrived in California, eighth-grader Frederick meets and becomes friends with a girl named Xio. When Xio develops a major crush on Frederick, their relationship takes an awkward turn with Frederick finding it hard to reciprocate Xio’s feelings because he’s attracted to a boy. Is he gay? Can a boy and a girl be “just” friends? By alternating between Xio’s and Frederick’s first-person point of view, Sanchez does a good job of exploring both the evolution of their tangled emotions and the nature of friendship. Ultimately, Xio emerges as the more interesting character, since Frederick is burdened by a bundle of stereotypes: he’s asthmatic, dotes on interior decoration, is a neat freak, etc. Nevertheless, Sanchez understands the inner lives of kids and, in writing one of the few middle-grade novels on this aspect of sexual identity, he does a service for questioning youth. Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Here’s a column by Sanchez about writing controversial audio books for teens.