cover image Adam


Ariel Schrag. Mariner, $13.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-544-14293-0

The eponymous hero of Schrag’s frisky debut is an awkward, horny 17-year-old who, after a humiliating romantic failure, decides to spend the summer of 2006 in New York City with his older sister, Casey, who hasn’t come out yet as a lesbian to their parents. Eager to score with older women and shed his loser status, Adam moves into his sister’s Bushwick apartment, where she lives with her roommate June, who’s besotted with her, and a mysterious trust-fund baby, Ethan. Adam’s summer of love gets complicated, however, when he discovers that gender is not a simple matter in Casey’s circles. Then he meets Gillian, the beautiful redheaded girl of his dreams. Problem #1 is that she is a lesbian, problem #2 is that she thinks he’s a transgendered man. As they gradually fall in love, Adam is torn between revealing his secret, currently hidden beneath Ace bandages, and preserving their awkward but sweet romance. While the novel is far more conventional than the progressive themes might suggest, Schrag’s brisk narrative has plenty of hilarious scenes, including a memorably raunchy interlude at a fetish club. Growing from crass boy to sensitive man, Adam comes to view gender and sexuality in a new light, resulting in one of the most original coming-of-age stories of recent years. Agent: Merilee Heifetz, Writers House. (June)