Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she’s been doing her best to understand, it’s obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay.
Complications go into overdrive when a new student named Benjamin arrives at his high school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he’s never allowed himself before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes that it’s time to stop hiding and to stand up—for Pride, for Benjamin, and for himself.
High school senior Jackson is just waiting for a chance to leave his small town, Thompson Mills, and its residents' small minds, so that he can come out as gay and really start his life. But when a new student, Benjamin, shows up, he finds himself challenged in all new ways: Benjamin is out and proud, and Jackson is enamored. As the two begin a slow dance into romance, Benjamin pushes back against homophobia and is met with slurs, threats, and, eventually, violence. As Benjamin recovers, Jackson has to decide whether he's willing to stand up in the face of danger and resist intolerance, or return to hiding his identity. Shaw (Caterpillars Can't Swim) creates a realistically diverse cast in this slow-paced but full-hearted novel. While the story explores the intensity of both first love and vehement discrimination, it also presents joy and hope for its characters, and will likely find fans among YA readers. Ages 12 up.