Title: The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw
Two-sentence summary: When seventeen-year-old Jack comes out to his mom, she’s supportive but he feels guilty for the grief she feels at losing what she thought she knew about her son. When Jack meets a new student who changes his life, he decides to organize a Pride parade in his small and conservative town.
Portrayal of LGBTQ issues: Jack is a cis gay teenager who’s navigating coming out for the first time in a community where queer issues aren’t openly discussed. Although this isn’t an #OwnVoices YA since the author herself isn’t LGBT, she’s a parent and ally of her LGBT children.
What I liked: Overall, I liked this one. It dealt with some heavy themes (including suicidal ideation and homophobia) but manages to stay hopeful in a way that isn’t easy to do. The love story between Jack and Benjamin is also cute, especially how it helps Jack come into his own with his gay identity. Although it’s more of a side story rather than the main plot, Jack’s friendship with Ryan (another student who has cerebral palsy) also gave the book more meaning and depth than just a simple coming-out story.
The one criticism I have is that Jack seemed like the only fleshed out character. That’s good for a protagonist, but it was hard for me to picture or understand the other people in his life. I would have liked the other characters to have a little more depth to give more meaning to Jack’s story and relationship with them.
“Nothing ever changes unless people are willing to try.”
Recommended: This is a companion to Caterpillars Can’t Swim, but the author has written both as able to stand on their own. I would recommend this one to fans of that book if you want to hear the story told from a different perspective.
Note: I was given an ARC in exchange for a fair review.