With just 151 days left until the school year ends, Kyle Stilleno is running out of time to fulfill the promise he made and change Foster, Texas, for the better. But Kyle and his boyfriend, Brad Graymark, have more than just intolerance to deal with. Life, college, love, and sex have a way of distracting them, and they’re realizing Foster is a bigger place than they thought. When someone from their past returns at the worst possible moment, graduation becomes the least of their worries.
Wow. Just... wow. This book took me there and back again. It didn't shy away from a damn thing.
It had been 2 years since I'd read End of Innocence, the last book with Kyle and Brad as the main focal point, but I don't remember that one feeling quite so whiplash'y.
Not that that's in any way a bad thing, but this book had a whole lot of rewinding the time line to re-tell the same sequence of events from another person's perspective, then another, and another. So that took me a little while to get used to.
But in that re-telling, we die hard Foster fans pick up a ton of great insight into the psyches of familiar characters (Jennifer, Robbie, Kelly's mom, Coach Gunn, Jeremy, etc.), which I enjoyed. It also re-categorized a lot of my 'liked them' characters into 'loved them' status.
But for me, this story was mostly about maturing. Not necessarily that of Kyle and Brad as much as the rest of Foster's other residents.
I was completely blown away by many of them. In particular Coach Gunn and Kelly's mom, but especially Brad's (self-admitted asshole) father. It was great to see that even the older generation recognized their need to re-evaluate deeply-engrained, long-held beliefs and prejudices.
And yes, Jeremy's meltdown and lashing out were incredibly hard for me to read, especially knowing that honest-to-God real life kids are experiencing the same things every day. But I'm really glad that the book took us to that dark place.
So many people hear about these things and don't understand that, many times, they happen because the true victims finally snap and decide to fight back. In horrifying, disastrous ways.
Wow, this dark review wasn't what I had in mind at all when I started writing.
But the book had a lot of entertaining parts as well, so to take this to a happier place, here were a few of my favorite humorous parts:
--> Josh in the ice tub after practice: “And no matter how much swag you think you got, there is no way to recover from openly crying like a bitch in the locker room. You know?”
--> Kyle on quickie butt sex: We figured out that night that we only needed fourteen minutes of alone time to get our business done. It was a handy number to know.
--> Robbie to Jennifer: "... if you feel like verbally vomiting all over me again, do not think I am above slapping a hysterical woman. Like my mom always said, if you want to act like a crazy person, you get treated like a crazy person.”
--> Robbie when Matt entered his shop: This guy was rocking some decent hetero camouflage, but I’m sorry, sweetie, your shoes just clocked you as a ’mo.
--> Kyle while being held hostage: “Fuck off.” Needless to say, I did indeed fuck right the hell off.
--> Kyle while being asked to prom: I went pale as I realized what was going on. I was having a Glee stroke.
--> Robbie on motivating Kyle: The key to getting any teenage nerd into a suit is one part fear, two parts peer pressure, and one part Time Lord. If you don’t know what I mean, look it up. It will serve you well in the future, trust me.
--> Robbie on the *alternate* Prom: “Did I plan a party in the middle of some old woods, outside, with bugs? Bitch, you don’t know me at all.”
But nothing was quite as moving for me as Kyle's up front, pissed off Valedictorian speech to Foster's students and the town:
--> “You want to make the world a better place? Do it. You want to be a better person? Be it." ... "We aren’t going to accept there is a time and place for things, and that someday they will get better. The place is here, and the time is now.” ... “We are tired of your world. We are sick of your hatred and your bigotry and of your bullshit. We are not going to stand for it anymore—we won’t." ... “We are coming for you, and we are coming for your world, and we are pissed. If you stand for hate and for discrimination and you can’t see that all people are worth something, then know this. We are the graduating class of Foster High, and your days are numbered.”
I wanted to include that here, because I know a lot of you probably haven't started this series yet and if you don't, that would be a shame. This is a great, great series of books that I can't recommend highly enough.
So on that note, as Foster portion of the series comes to an end for Kyle and Brad, I will leave you with the same very wise words that Robbie put on a sign in the window of his shop for Kyle and Brad to see as they drove out of town...
"Make Your Own Happy Ending"
My copy of this book was provided by the publisher for a fair, unbiased review.
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