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Somewhere Beyond the Sea

Life ain't easy when you're a gay teen. Especially when your boyfriend isn't ready to come out. And isn't entirely sure he's really a boy. How long will Micah spend Waiting For Walker?

Somewhere Beyond the Sea

BOOK REPORT for Waiting for Walker by Robin Reardon

Cover Story: Small Press Clip Art
Drinking Buddy: White Wine Spritzer
Testosterone Level: Mighty Mite
Talky Talk: So Close
Bonus Factors: Intersex, Rich People, Sharks
Bromance Status: Summer Fling

Cover Story: Small Press Clip Art

I wish we could start up a fund for small presses to hire cover designers so they wouldn't have to rely on clip art. This cover could be for just about any book, from an angsty study in suicide to a teen devotional.

The Deal:

Micah, like every other YA teen, has a life that's a mess. His older brother, Dylan, was killed in Afghanistan. This caused his parents' marriage to fall apart. His father is dating again. His mother, whom he lives with, has started drinking hard. Even worse, she's seeing a 'psychic', who claims that Dylan isn't dead. He's alive somewhere! Isn't that wonderful?

On top of all this, Micah is gay. He hasn't told his parents yet, but he's had it up to his eyeballs with his father's attempts to macho him up by taking him to topless beaches. And Micah just moved, so he doesn't really know anyone.

Enter Walker. Walker is rich. He has his own boat. Not his family, Walker has his own sailboat. Walker is handsome. And friendly. He wants to take Micah sailing. Could Walker be the boy of his dreams?

Except for one minor problem. Walker was born intersex. He's pretty sure he wants to keep living as male. He's not so sure he's gay, and really unsure he wants to share that with the world.

Drinking Buddy: White Wine Spritzer

Not a gay joke, a rich guy joke.

I liked Micah and Walker. Especially Micah. A classic YA character dealing with way too much, way too young. When he tries to wean his mother away from her fortune teller, he's accused of wishing that his brother was dead. He has to deal with his dad's new girlfriend, who's so damn...nice. Plus, unlike most teens, he can't sit on the living room couch holding hands with his date and expect everyone to be fine with it.

But hey, I'm sure these problems will work themselves out on their own, right?

Testosterone Level: Mighty Mite

Micah lives in a small apartment in the motel that his mother manages. Walker lives in a mansion. Micah rides a bike. Walker has a Jeep and his own sailboat (his parents have a yacht). Micah saved up for a fancy camera. Walker's father has a bunch sitting around.

And yet, Micah is clearly the dominant one in this relationship. When Walker is bullied by his sister and cousin, it's Micah who stands up to them. While Walker cowers behind a fear of being outed, Micah really doesn't care what the neighbors think. And while Micah fills out his jockeys just fine...

Walker, due to his medical condition, is rather...small. Really, really small. It works and all, but there's not much to it.

And Micah finds this to be cute. He wins the boyfriend of the year award for that alone.

Incidentally, if you google the term 'micropenis', this is the very first image that comes up:

A little light in the lederhosen, eh?

Talky Talk: So Close

This was an incredibly compelling read. I burned through the whole book in two days and I was sad to see it end. The characters were likeable, the conflict realistic, and the writing was superb. I'm looking forward to reading a lot more books by this talented author.

Unfortunately, about 2/3 of the way through the book, there was an unbelievable plot twist that really felt forced and soured me on the ending. I can't tell you more, but I felt like the excellent last part of this book was forcibly glued to the excellent first part.

Bonus Factor: Intersex

This book does a good job of explaining the term 'intersex' without getting needlessly technical. Walker was born with stunted male genitalia, but does not have male chromosomes. He takes testosterone to maintain his masculine appearance.

In the past, well meaning doctors would perform surgery on babies with ambiguous genitalia, usually making them female. This would often lead to gender dysphoria later in life. Walker's parents fortunately left him alone until he could decide for himself.

If only they were that open-minded about his sexual preference.

Bonus Factor: Rich People

For Micah, with his divorced parents, buying a pair of shoes is a big purchase. He's kind of overwhelmed by Walker's family, with their catered meals and inadequate three-car garage. But that's one of the reasons Walker likes Micah: he's not obsessed with possessions, and he doesn't hang out with Walker due to his social status or fancy toys.

Though Micah does take a shine to the nautical life.

Bonus Factor: Sharks

When Micah was younger, he went wading in the ocean and wound up losing a hunk of his calf to a friendly shark. He's naturally afraid of the sea now, and avoids going in too deep. But now he has a boyfriend with a boat. Can he face his fears in order to kiss Walker on the poop deck? Or on the lips?

Bromance Status: Summer Fling

I enjoyed the time I spent with you this June, when I had time to sit down and appreciate you. I hope others will as well.

Full disclosure: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author. I got no money or boat shoes in exchange.

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.