Under the Stars
Contemporary Gay YA
Novel (180 page)
Harmony Ink Press through Dreamspinner Press
***** 5 Star Review *****
Ethan Tanner is an out and proud, fastidious, and fashionable sixteen-year-old vegetarian who likes theater and musicals. This year, it’s his sister's turn to pick the vacation destination, so he ends up on a dude ranch he knows he is going to hate. What with the dirt, animals, and germs, he can’t possibly be happy.
Jason McCoy is the closeted sixteen-year-old son of the ranch owners and is trying to find his place in a world that doesn't seem to fit him. He takes an interest in Ethan, shows him around, and gets him to ride a horse. When he invites Ethan camping, Ethan thinks Jason must be joking. But Ethan takes a risk, and the two boys bond under the stars.
After that, Ethan and Jason are inseparable. Their friendship grows into something deeper as they begin to figure out what they want from life. But Ethan’s home is in Chicago, and the distance might be more than the two teenagers—and their blossoming relationship—can withstand.
Sixteen year old Ethan Tanner is out, proud and flamboyant. He loves fashion and musicals, so when his family decides to spend their summer vacation on a ranch, he is less than enthusiastic about the trip. But there is something about the peace, quiet and beauty at the ranch that even a skeptic like Ethan can appreciate. The totally cute ranch hand is a huge plus as well.
Jason McCoy is everything that Ethan is not. A down home, real life, cowboy. While Ethan prefers Dolce, Gabbana and Broadway musicals... Jason is all wranglers, ropers and Stetsons. Jason shows Ethan how to relax, enjoy the great outdoors and ride a horse. And Ethan stirs up feelings in Jason that he’d just as soon keep to himself. Jason doesn’t think his parents, especially his demanding father, would accept him being gay.
Ethan and Jason spend their time together talking and getting to know each other under the stars. But when vacation is over, Ethan and his family will return to their life in Chicago, while Jason is forced to return to his life in the closet. Unless the combined perseverance of two teenagers that fell in love under those stars can find a way to stay in contact over the next two years, until they are old enough to make their own decisions.
I really enjoyed the way the author used the characters differences in personalities, twisting them and making them complimentary to each other. Ethan is outgoing, out and proud, yet he still struggles with acceptance from his peers. He just can’t justify pretending to be something or someone else though, regardless of what people think, say or do. Jason is the muscle in the relationship and he could probably run the ranch right by himself, blindfolded and with one hand tied behind his back. But he has led a sort of sheltered life. He longs for his father’s attention, to be something more to the man than just free labor on the ranch. He has never felt more wanted or loved than he does with Ethan, and it’s the determination that they both have to be together again that will see them through.
While this is a young adult title, the maturity of the storyline and scenarios make it intriguing enough to hold the attention of readers of all ages, with the author holding true to the age appropriate content. The scenery was so vivid that I felt like I was lying on a blanket on the ranch staring up at the stars. I hope there is a sequel to this story, that I can follow Ethan and Jason on this journey that they’ve started.
There was something about Ethan and Jason that kept making me think about the video/song Stay by Steve Grand. Maybe because the personalities and descriptions of Ethan and Jason just sort of fit Steve and his "Southern King."