BOOK REVIEWS

Shoulder Pads and Flannel Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2016-05-02 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 2 user ratings
ISBN:1632160579
LANGUAGE:English

"We first met Guillermo Garcia in the first volume of the Deep Secrets and Hope series. He is a handsome, Latino, closeted, high school football player who is secretly dating the out loud and proud Evan Granger. I read "Nail Polish and Feathers" when it was released and re-read it yesterday before launching into this follow up story. Where the last page of "Nail Polish" ends, the first page of "Shoulder Pads and Flannel" begins. The POV changes to Guillermo's and we still hear and see a lot of Evan Granger. I fell in love with Evan in the first volume due to his unapologetic flamboyant ways and desire to be a professional drag queen when he grows up.

This story takes us to the next level in the relationship between Moe and Evan and takes an honest and realistic look at what gay teens deal with in the process of coming out to family and peers. There is also a sensitive dealing with the date rape of a teenage girl in the mix, with Guillermo playing an integral role in helping in her healing journey. If I could only pick one gay coming of age series to gift to gay teens, these two books would be the ones I'd choose. I have read many YA novels that deal with the issues at hand for gay teens including bullying, family issues, school and peer issues, etc., but I have to say that these two novels, together, do the best job of helping a gay teen find their own fears, experiences, worries, hopes and dreams reflected in the pages of a book. Perhaps the author's background as a teacher has something to do with how well she portrays her young protagonists.

This young couple has only made it to the kissing stage so far so these books would be well placed in high school libraries without risking the wrath of homophobic book banners. Or at least, one would hope. So if anyone reading this is in a position to purchase and place these two companion books into a school library out there in reader land, I urge you to do so. I can assure you, there is a young man or two out there hungry for this type of tale.
" said.

"Bullies are an unfortunate threat to many gay young people. This book is the continuing story of two high school students (Nail Polish & Feathers is book one) Evan and Moe. Evan is an out and has been out since 5th grade.t times he wears makeup and women's clothes. Moe is a jock - the star of the football team, but he's also in love with Evan. Evan is abused by many in school, but Moe has his back. The boo moves at a fast pace and is difficult to put down I recommend this book to both YA and Adults. I'm looking forward to Book 3." said.

"The characters of Jo Ramsey's "Shoulder Pads and Flannel" come from a prior installment called "Nail Polish and Feathers." While reading the first book would give insight into Evan's character, and the prior events that motivate a lot of the energy of this story, I ended up reading this story on its own. Nonetheless, I didn't feel like I was missing out on something by not reading the first novel, and was able to fully understand the story in the scope of this one.

This novel focuses on Guillermo Garcia, who is on the football team, in the closet and dating Evan Granger in secret. It's tough watching his boyfriend being harassed, but be too afraid to come out for fear of his family's judgments (considering he is the oldest son and fears his dad's expectations will be let down with a gay son) and similar harassment at school. But as the attacks on Evan become more life-threatening and he starts getting caught in the crossfire, he is forced to stand up for what he believes in and protect Evan no matter what.

I really enjoyed the family dynamics, especially between Guillermo and his brother, Ernesto, who idolized Guillermo, and is now taking the brunt of teasing because his older brother is gay. Given the things Ernesto does, you don't want to feel sympathy for him, but you get to watch them grow and understand each other, and I think that's a realistic portrayal of the brotherly bond. And seeing Guillermo's family reactions are also quite tender as well.

In terms of a story and a plot, I thought this novel had many things going for it. And I know that there are future installments in this world, so I see that Ramsey has delved deep into the lives of these characters. Ultimately, I think it's a nice story and for those interested in these characters, there are plenty more avenues to explore.
" said.

"This is the second book in a series, but can be read as a standalone.

Guillermo "Moe" is a high school junior, new to his small Massachusetts town. He's only been there six months or so, and he's a closeted gay athlete. A football star. He is secretly dating Evan, a femme out-gay boy in his class. Evan was the MC from the first book in the series who had been assaulted (gay bashed) by two of Moe's former teammates, Jim and Ray. They were kicked off the team for participating in a hate crime, and sentenced to probation.

Moe feels guilty for being gay. His parents are from Puerto Rico, and they have rather conservative ideas about manhood and family. They moved from NYC due to crime in their neighborhood, and Moe's both happier and more frustrated. He likes his school more, but he laments the lack of anonymity. In this small town people notice things--like how he and Evan walk around town together. They threaten to reveal Moe's "gayness" and tease his younger brother Ernesto. Moe fears coming out, and what that would mean for his position on the football team, with his home life and with Evan. Evan is still being threatened--now because people are mad that Jim and Ray are off their team, as well as his own femme style. It upsets Moe that he can't really protect Evan they way he wants to--because doing so would clearly out him. But, after anonymous calls to his father at work and coded messages he starts receiving on social media indicate, it's only a matter of time before everyone knows. Should Moe tell his family? His teammates? How "out" does he have to be?

I found this to be a refreshing look at so many aspects of teen life. There are girls who own their sexuality ("promiscuity") and boys who own their homosexuality and bullies--physical and emotional--and kids taking things "too far" and homophobia and slut shaming and reality. Moe doesn't always understand Evan's need to be femme, and even wear female clothing and make up, but he loves Evan, and that means loving all of him. Evan doesn't want to pressure Moe to come out, even though doing so would make their relationship easier--and probably get the bullies off his back.

Moe's family is really wonderful, well, his parents are. They are thoughtful and concerned, and care deeply for their boys. His brother is a typical tween boy and has a lot of anger regarding the rumors surrounding Moe's sexuality. There is much more to this story than coming out. There is hope and acceptance and manipulation and drama. I believe the ending is happy, for most of the parties, and it's a positive and uplifting message. I expect this kind of situation is less-than-easy to deal with, but the narrative was sensitive and realistic at the same time.

I really like Moe and Evan. They are great kids. Their rocky start is sad, but there is certainly plenty of hope in the end. Also, this is a YA story which has no steam. Evan and Moe spend time alone together, but mostly they hang out, talk and occasionally kiss. Evan has never had a boyfriend before, and Moe wants to take everything slow because he believes, like his Catholic parents, that a sexual relationship is better saved for people who plan to spend their lifetimes together, and high school is too soon to make those kind of choices.

Speaking of Catholic parents, Moe's parents plan a conference with their parish priest, to discuss Moe's sexuality in confidence and determine if there will be blow back in their house of worship. Their plan is to leave and find an inclusive church if that is the case. Though we don't find out the results of that meeting in this story, I really respected this family decision, and the comfort that it brought to Moe.

I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.
" said.

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