cover image Billy's Boy

Billy's Boy

Patricia Nell Warren. Wildcat Press, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-9641099-4-0

Clumsy characterizations mar the sequel to Warren's bestselling gay novels, The Front-runner and Harlan's Race. Billy's Boy is about John William Seden, the son of dead gay track star Billy Sive. A 12-year-old science geek with his head in the stars, narrator William (he goes by his middle name) uses the phrase ""potty mouth"" with sincerity, calls his mom's best friend ""Auntie"" and is completely ignorant about sex. He doesn't have an inkling that his mom (a women's track coach whose favorite exclamation is ""Goddess!"") is a lesbian; she, despite her political fervor, remains uncharacteristically closeted to her pubescent son. The novel opens as the Hedens are moving from Sacramento to conservative Orange County, Calif. William quickly becomes friends with Shawn, a neighbor his age, but when their relationship becomes sexual, Shawn's born-again parents put an end to it. The Hedens then flee to ""Auntie's"" home near L.A., where William's search for information about his dead father brings him closer to a family he never knew he had, into the life and times of the L.A. riots and into the urban teen pastimes of clubbing and drugs. Warren's experience as an educator of gay teens lends her young characters some needed realism. While cliched situations and clunky dialogue leave much to be desired, Warren's fans will no doubt be eager to continue following the lives of their friends Harlan, Vince, Chino and Betsy through a new, young pair of eyes. (Nov.)