From acclaimed author Phil Stamper (The Gravity of Us and As Far as You’ll Take Me) comes a poignant coming-of-age, contemporary middle grade debut novel about finding your place, using your voice, and the true meaning of pride. Perfect for fans of Rick by Alex Gino and The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy.
Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school’s first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio.
When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.
Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake.
But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?
In a heartfelt middle grade debut, Stamper (Golden Boys) traces a gay 13-year-old's arc toward authenticity and queer community in Midwestern America. After Jake Moore comes out to his parents, his father installs a large pride flag in the family's front yard, spurring uncomfortable reactions from more conservative members of their rural Ohio village led by Jake's neighbor mayor, who actively silences discourse around the topic. Fearing that he'll never be fully accepted, but inspired by queer inclusion in a farming simulation game in which he feels at home, Jake decides to throw Barton Springs' first Pride festival, envisioning "something huge and full of joy that for once didn't have to do with a basketball game." He has the support of his parents and his academically ambitious best friend, Jenna, and finds an unexpected ally in his crush, mayor's son Brett Miller. But village politics and red tape threaten to derail the festival, forcing Jake and his cohort to work toward changing the system for the better. Drawing from his own childhood experiences and employing sympathetically rendered characters (protagonists read as white), Stamper keeps the accessible story hopeful with a clear-eyed message of acceptance, inclusion, and bighearted community. Ages 8 12. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US.