“Still teenagers, we had started to build the foundation of an eternal love, one kiss, one smile, one caress at a time. And in my youthful arrogance, I’d been sure the house of love we were building would be impervious to the world’s disapprobation, no matter how mightily it huffed and puffed and blew.”
Tristan and Max are a pair of Asian-American high school students who find themselves unexpectedly in love in post-Columbine America.
Tristan works to balance what it means to be an excellent son, with its prescribed expectations and attendant demands, with his growing desire for independence and his deepening feelings for Max. While Max, after years of hopelessness, feels himself come alive at Tristan’s touch, he tries desperately to forge a path forward that centers his identity and allows him to fully express his feelings for Tristan.
Just seventeen, they are learning to navigate the multiple worlds they must live in to keep themselves and their growing love safe. Like any other dating couple, they are looking forward to attending prom and planning a trip to Paris the summer after graduation, before they start college, when a shocking act of homophobic violence shatters their world.
Told via alternating, intertwining points of view, Excellent Sons combines a contemporary gay romance with an erotic retelling of a classic fairy tale that both centers and drives the novel. Yet beyond love and romance and the primacy and urgency of sex, the book examines what it means to be an excellent son, the relationship between lovers and parents, and parents and children, and what we as children owe our parents, and ourselves.