Eddie De Oliveira, Author . Scholastic/PUSH $6.99 (239p) ISBN 978-0-439-54655-3

Nineteen-year-old Sam examines his sexual identity in De Oliveira's often clever but sometimes sluggish debut. Told as a flashback, the British teen recounts events occurring between the end of his first year of college and his team's annual August soccer match with its rivals. At the start of summer, Sam finally admits to himself, "I might possibly in effect maybe potentially have the capability to fancy boys" as well as girls, but he's concerned about how teammates and old friends will respond. A new friendship with Toby, who is also "gentle," pushes him to open up, but not until Toby hooks up with Lucy does Sam realize that he "really, really liked the guy." While Sam's self-study is often overly cerebral, it does occasion some silliness ("Or how about sexuality as a Venn diagram?" Sam asks Toby). Readers will appreciate the author's creation of a funny, flawed—if not always likable—protagonist with a realistically complicated sexuality, and the storytelling includes memorable incidents. In one humiliating scene, Sam vomits after being overwhelmed by his first trip to London's gay quarter, and in another more triumphant moment his teammates stand up to their coach for him just before the big game. Unfortunately, other plot points, such as Sam's one-time hook-up with Lucy, or the sudden appearance of his crush-from-afar at his soccer practice, seem random or underdeveloped and ultimately zap the momentum from Sam's story. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 239 pages - 978-0-613-72144-8
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