Danny thinks he must be the only seventeen-year-old guy in Cape Breton – in Nova Scotia, maybe – who doesn't have his life figured out. His buddy Kierce has a rule for every occasion, and his best friend Jay has bad grades, no plans and no worries. Danny's dad nags him about his post-high-school plans, his friends bug him about girls and a run-in with the cops means he has to get a summer job. Worst of all, he's keeping a secret that could ruin everything.
As summer vacation begins on the sland of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, 17-year-old Danny feels lost, with no career aspirations and the burden of hiding that he's gay. He's also having trouble relating to his two best friends brash, confident Kierce and laid-back Jay. When Danny starts working at a new restaurant as a dishwasher, he discovers a passion for cooking, becomes sous chef at the restaurant, and bonds with Lisa, a hip and sophisticated waitress from New York City with troubles of her own. Set in 1994 (when the author was himself a teenager), Ryan's debut novel focuses on Danny's frustrations and self-doubt ("Being gay was the last thing on earth that I wanted, but my body refused to cooperate with my brain"). Though Danny's angst and dithering may frustrate gay teens who are comparatively more self-confident in their sexuality, those who, like Danny, feel like "an island of gayness in an ocean of straightness," should identify with his search for a path of his own. Ages 12 up.