cover image Saints of Augustine

Saints of Augustine

P. E. Ryan, . . HarperTeen, $16.99 (308pp) ISBN 978-0-06-085810-0

Adult novelist Ryan (Send Me ) makes his young adult debut with this honest perspective on coming to terms with one’s identity. The story centers around two ex-best friends—17-year-olds Sam and Charlie—supposedly in their high school prime. Sam’s father has moved out in order to “research his book” (but really to stay with his “friend” David abroad), and his mother’s fill-in boyfriend, Teddy, is blatantly homophobic. Sam is attracted to his new gay friend, Justin, but denies these feelings to himself and others. That his father is apparently gay only fuels Sam’s angst (“Can’t you just hear the talk? Sam Findley’s dad’s a homo, and he’s turned Sam into one, too”). Meanwhile, Charlie has his hands full caring for his father, an alcoholic widower, and he smokes pot as an escape. Charlie’s girlfriend dumps him after finding out about his drug habit, and he owes his increasingly threatening dealer $500—money that he doesn’t have. In a surprisingly believable reconciliation, the boys finally confide in each other, learn how wrong assumptions can be and slowly begin to rebuild their friendship. Teens will find both boys’ storylines (and narrative voices) thoroughly compelling right through to the end, which leaves many ends rightfully untied, underscoring the lingering effects of life’s messier moments. Ages 12-up. (July)