Way to Go by Tom Ryan

It’s the summer of 1994, and Danny’s friends have a mission: he is going to get laid before he starts grade twelve in the fall. Danny however, is just not-that-into girls. Determined to prove once and for all that he is not gay, Danny decides to find a girl to set him straight, and when he suddenly finds himself working at the town’s new restaurant with Lisa, who is visiting from New York City for the summer, Danny thinks his problems might be over.

Maybe Lisa had appeared out of nowhere for a reason. I was kind of like a frog in a fairy tale who needed a kiss from a princess so he could turn into a prince. Only, instead of a frog, I was a might-be-gay kid who needed straightening out, and instead of a princess, she was a cigarette-smoking tattooed city girl with a bag full of mix tapes. I figured that was close enough.

But of course it is not that simple. Lisa is awesome and they have a great time together, but Danny just doesn’t see her that way. And his friends, especially Kierce, with all his rules about life and partying and girls, do not let up. Life-long friendships are strained, some will not fully recover.

Set in small town Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Way to Go is a serious look at the loneliness and isolation encountered growing up gay, but manages to stay light-hearted, with characters who make mistakes yet refuse to wallow in their troubles.

I found myself wanting to know more about Danny and Lisa when the book ended. Does Danny go to cooking school, or is it perhaps a passing inspiration, but not the end goal? Does he see Lisa again, perhaps years down the road? How does his friendship with Jay change after he admits he’s gay (or does it)? How will he tell his father, and will his father ever accept it? I am not saying these are things that Ryan ought to have addressed, but rather I think a good book should leave you wondering and wanting more. This one did. I look forward to more from Tom Ryan – and hear he has a new one coming in Spring of 2013!

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers (April 1 2012)
ISBN-10: 145980077X
ISBN-13: 978-1459800779

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