America's Boy: A Memoir

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Overview

In the tradition of such quirky and smart coming-of-age memoirs as Augusten Burroughs's Running with Scissors and Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy, America's Boy is an arresting and funny tale of growing up different in America's heartland.

Wade didn't quite fit in. While schoolmates had crewcuts and wore Wrangler jeans, Wade styled his hair in imitation of Robbie Benson circa Ice Castles and shopped in the Sears husky section. Wade's father insisted on calling everyone ...

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Overview

In the tradition of such quirky and smart coming-of-age memoirs as Augusten Burroughs's Running with Scissors and Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy, America's Boy is an arresting and funny tale of growing up different in America's heartland.

Wade didn't quite fit in. While schoolmates had crewcuts and wore Wrangler jeans, Wade styled his hair in imitation of Robbie Benson circa Ice Castles and shopped in the Sears husky section. Wade's father insisted on calling everyone “honey”—even male gas station attendants. His mother punctuated her conversations with “WHAT?!” and constantly answered herself as though she was being cross-examined. He goes to school with a pack of kids called goat ropers who make the boys from Deliverance look like honor students. And he both loved and hated his perfect older brother.

While other families traveled to Florida and Hawaii for vacation, Wade's family packed their clothes in garbage bags and drove to their log cabin on Sugar Creek in the Missouri Ozarks. And it is here that Wade found refuge from his everyday struggle to fit in—until a sudden, terrible accident on the Fourth of July took his brother's life and changed everything.

Equally nostalgic, poignant, funny, and compelling, this is a story of what it is to be normal, what it means to fit in, and what it means to be yourself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The tacky environs of the Missouri Ozarks in the 1970s set in relief a budding gay sensibility in this funny, affecting, overripe memoir. Wearing his mother's bikini and pearls to a mock beauty pageant at age five, winning office in his high school's Future Homemakers club, feigning romantic interest in a string of female beards, Rouse was hopelessly out of step with the redneck masculinity urged on him by taunting classmates and despairing relatives. Fortunately, he had a charmingly offbeat family, led by two warmhearted grandmothers, who accepted him as he was (without asking too many questions) and left him with a trove of glowing memories. The plight of a queer soul fighting for life in rural America is familiar literary terrain, and Rouse renders it as a duel between flamboyant camp and white-trash kitsch. He amplifies his inner turmoil with a weepy confessional tone, obsessing about his compulsive overeating, body issues, hair issues and gross bathroom issues, and sobbing endlessly over emotional travails. In the end, the narrative lapses into a clich d coming-out melodrama. But when Rouse looks away from the mirror to the people around him, the book comes alive with tender portraits of kitsch and kin. Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Growing up "different" (read: gay) in the Missouri Ozarks during the 1970s could not have been easy for Rouse. On page one, we meet him dressed in his grandma Rouse's red high heels, his mother's black-and-white bikini, gold earrings, a tinfoil crown with glued-on red checkers, and a cardboard sash that says "Miss Sugar Creek" in red magic marker. He's five, he's got attitude, and he has the reader laughing and worrying at the same time. Rouse writes tenderly, hilariously, and without bitterness about his unusual family, life as a closeted gay teen, the death of his brother, a misunderstanding with his father, his coming out, and love with his partner, Gary. His family supports, infuriates, and surprises him-after all those years of trying to hide his sexual identity, Rouse eventually discovers that those closest to him always knew he was gay. This is Rouse's first book, and it's a winner. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.-Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525949343
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/6/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Wade Rouse

WADE ROUSE is a public-relations director at one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious private schools. He is also a journalist whose articles have appeared in The Chicago Reader and The St. Louis Riverfront Times.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A story about growing up and being different.

    Wade Rouse's America's Boy: A Memoir provides a look at the author's life growing up in the Ozarks and the development of his identity. Rouse skillfully weaves in and out of childhood memories leaving the reader engrossed in how they each connect. Themes of inadequacy, adolescence, self-discovery, but most of all family, Rouse provides a glimpse of his journey through sexual identity and the people who gave him the strength to do so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    AMAZING!

    A great memoir filled with laughs, intrigue and that will move your soul while, inflating your heart, pick up this book! You won't be disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

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    Posted July 1, 2009

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    Posted July 2, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

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