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In Mike We Trust

In Mike We Trust

3.6 6
by P. E. Ryan

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He wanted it. He craved it.
He could barely remember what it was.

When Garth's uncle comes to visit, he's like a breath of very needed fresh air. Mike is laid-back and relaxed—and willing to accept Garth for who he is, without question. For the first time in a long while, Garth feels like he's around someone who


He wanted it. He craved it.
He could barely remember what it was.

When Garth's uncle comes to visit, he's like a breath of very needed fresh air. Mike is laid-back and relaxed—and willing to accept Garth for who he is, without question. For the first time in a long while, Garth feels like he's around someone who understands him.

But before long Garth is helping Mike with some pretty mysterious things and finds himself keeping secrets from everyone around him. He's forced to wonder: Is his uncle Mike really who he says he is, and can Garth trust him? More importantly, can Garth trust the person he's becoming?

P. E. Ryan has crafted a clever and compelling novel that asks the question: How far will you go for your family, to find yourself?

Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A rich and offbeat novel.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A rich and offbeat novel."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“A rich and offbeat novel.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“A rich and offbeat novel.”
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Mike is Garth's uncle, the twin brother of Mike's recently dead father, who shows up unexpectedly on their doorstep one evening. And fifteen-year-old Garth is not sure whether he trusts Mike or not. On the one hand, Mike supports Garth's emerging gay identity, unlike Garth's mother who, though officially supportive, refuses to talk about it or to allow Garth to talk about it with anybody outside the family. On the other hand, Mike seems to earn his money in decidedly shady ways: is he really collecting money for charity when he talks Garth into joining him at a booth outside the grocery store to solicit contributions for research to cure the often fatal disease of "meininosis"? If so, why is there no entry for "meininosis" on Wikipedia? Garth's whole life soon becomes a tissue of endless lies: lying to his mother about his problematic escapades with Mike, lying on behalf of his mother about his sexuality. Mike's schemes and scams are both hilarious to read about and deeply disturbing; Garth's relationships with his best friend Lisa and first gay friend Adam are believable and nuanced; the message about being true to yourself and to those who care about you and count on your truthfulness, emerges naturally from the story without excessive didacticism; and the story's closing pages are extremely heartwarming and affirming. We may not trust Mike, but readers can and should trust P. E. Ryan. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up

Fifteen-year-old Garth Rudd, more comfortable with his homosexuality than his 5' 2" stature, is grieving his father's recent death. Forced to get a job, his understandably overprotective mother has asked him to temporarily keep his sexual orientation secret. When his father's estranged twin appears for a summer visit, Garth's trust is easily gained. Secretly Mike helps him navigate the unfamiliar waters of gay relationships by taking him to bookstores and facilitating dates with Adam, a school friend. Before long, Mike exploits Garth's trust and encourages him to quit his job, lie to his mother, and secretly help him collect money for "charities" instead. Soon the scams become apparent and the teen realizes the truth about his uncle. Now the teen must face his friends and his mother. The author has created a story with a pace that does not falter and a resolution that is realistically achieved. Garth is an appealing character, filled with contradictions, vulnerable while seeking strength, honest with himself but surprised at how easily he is able to lie to others. The author's use of language, at times brilliantly translucent, provides insightful dialogue. This contemporary coming-of-age story set in Richmond, VA, subtly and clearly provides a fresh perspective on teenage sexual identity by imbedding it into the context of the bigger issue of truth.-Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School, Livonia, MI

Kirkus Reviews
When his dad's twin brother, Mike, crashes into his life with an uneasy bang, Garth feels like he's seeing the ghost of his father, who died months before in a boating accident. Mike's enthusiastic presence awakens and invigorates Garth's somber household by providing both financial and emotional support. Mike even eases Garth out of the closet against his mom's wishes. Despite these good deeds, Mike obviously has a shady past, and trouble arises when he entangles Garth in a sketchy moneymaking scheme. Ryan's second novel for teens is complex and very different from the calm simplicity of Saints of Augustine (2007). The plenitude of issues-dead dads, fatherhood, coming-out and friendship-threatens to swamp readers, especially when they hit all at once. The plot burns like wildfire, occasionally feeling preachy. Nevertheless, the characterizations ring true, and Mike's personality plays a raucously entertaining polar opposite to Garth and his mom's. A surprising, entertaining and sometimes overwhelming sophomore story of what it means to twist the truth. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.20(h) x 1.30(d)
HL690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

In Mike We Trust

By P. Ryan
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009

P. Ryan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060858131

Chapter One

They were just finishing dinner when they heard a screech of tires, followed by several taps of a car horn. The dog began to bark, and Garth's mom flinched and looked up from her plate. She glanced toward the window that opened onto the side street, then gave Garth the worried expression he'd grown so used to over the past year and a half. Relax, he wanted to tell her, it's nothing. They lived in the middle of Richmond, surrounded by other houses. Since when was the sound of a car horn a reason to flinch?

The furrow in her brow deepened at the sound of footsteps on the front porch, and she nearly dropped her fork when they heard the knock, same pattern as the horn.

"Who in the world could it be at this hour?" she asked, peering at the clock on the wall.

"I'll get it." Garth got up from the table and crossed through the living room, focusing on the tall, lanky shadow on the other side of the door's beveled glass. He shushed Hutch, who was circling his feet like a shark, and called out, "Who is it?"

"Santa Claus!" a voice said.

Garth looked back at his mom, then turned to the door again.


"Captain America! Come on, it's me! Open up!"

The voice sounded jovial and vaguely familiar. He undid the chain and the deadbolt, and eased the door open.

"Hey, hey, hey! Look at you, short stuff!"

At fifteen, Garth barely reached five feet two. He was aching for the growth spurt that seemed to have taken over all the other guys his age, and he hated being called "short stuff." He hated "shorty" and "shrimp" and "little bit," and he usually lashed out at anyone who used such nicknames. But he said nothing now. He stood frozen, amazed.

Standing before him—or so it seemed in that first, arresting moment—was his dad's ghost.

In general, Garth tried not to dwell on the accident. When he caught his mind drifting toward it, he would force himself, instead, to concentrate on his dad before the event, on the man Jerry Rudd had been. He made mental lists of attributes:

Well liked.

Calm spirited.

Hard worker.

Corny joke teller.

Sailing nut. That last one was how his dad had described himself, anyway. He'd loved sailing more than anything else and he'd dreamed of one day building his own boat "completely out of wood, like they did it in the old days—right down to the pegs that hold it together."

He'd never gotten the chance.

Garth didn't share his dad's passion for sailing, but he'd inherited—possibly by sheer will—his love of ships. In Garth's case, these were miniatures, usually made of plastic because the wooden models were so expensive. His room was filled with them. They were lined up along his windowsill and dominated his bookcase. The largest—a handsome, highly detailed Batavia—spanned the top of his dresser.

Most days, the ships made him feel connected to his dad, but the nights were a different matter entirely.

His recurring nightmare, he'd decided, was like being strapped into a movie seat in the front row of the scariest horror film imaginable. He was forced to watch, over and over again, his dad and his dad's friend, Mr. Holt, try to outrun the sudden storm on the Chesapeake Bay. The sailboat was a twelve-foot Sunfish. Mr. Holt was manning the tiller; Garth's dad was working the line for the sail. Always, in the nightmare, they were enjoying themselves at first. Even as the dark sky rained down on them, they joked about man versus nature. Then things turned serious—fast. They had to shout through the wind and the rain to hear each other. They tried one maneuver, then another, but nothing worked. There was a moment too awful for Garth to wrap his brain around wherein both men realized that, all jokes aside, they were up against a force they couldn't possibly beat.

And then it happened. In one version, the mast snapped off. In another (like last night's), the boat just turned sideways, sail and all, throwing his dad and Mr. Holt into the water. Either way, the ending was the same: they tried to cling to the sinking hull; they fought to survive. But eventually the stormy bay filled their lungs.

Just another nightmare, Garth always told himself as he tried to fall back to sleep. Get it out of your head. But there was no getting it out completely, because although he hadn't witnessed it, the accident was very real. His dad had been dead for over a year and a half. His body—along with Mr. Holt's—had been recovered in a search-and-rescue mission following the storm, and their funerals had been held one day apart.

Nothing had been the same since then. Regardless of whether or not he dwelled on the event, or how many ships he built, life had become one steady, uphill climb.

The ghost—dressed in faded jeans, scuffed-up sneakers, and a yellow T-shirt that bore a cartoon dragon eating ice cream—wasn't a ghost, of course. But it took Garth a moment to realize this.

"You're Uncle Mike," he said, still holding on to the door.

His uncle grinned and held his hands out like a showman. "And you're Nephew Garth. Is there a door prize?"

No beard, Garth thought. That's what's different. When he had his beard, it was hard to even tell they were twins.

Not that he'd seen the guy too often; his dad and his uncle hadn't been very close. Four, maybe five times over the years, Uncle Mike had shown up out of the blue for a visit. And he'd come to the funeral, of course—arriving at the last minute, having driven from some other state.

"Well," Uncle Mike said, chuckling, "are you going to invite me in, or should I just . . . get lost?"


Excerpted from In Mike We Trust by P. Ryan Copyright © 2009 by P. Ryan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

P. E. Ryan also writes under the name of Patrick Ryan and is the author of the teen novel Saints of Augustine and the adult novel Send Me. He lives in New York City.

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In Mike We Trust 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I jst searched this up b/c mi friends brother had this on his entable. ;P
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Things haven't been going so well for 15-year-old Garth since his father died. He and his mom have had to move into a dingy apartment. She works two jobs and is always tired, while he has to pretend to enjoy working for the irritable owner of the local department store. Worst of all, he finally found the courage to come out to her - only to have her put that discussion "on hold" for an indefinite period, after extracting a promise that he tell no one else. Garth feels stifled, but he has no idea what to do about it. Then change comes without warning in the form of Garth's Uncle Mike, who shows up one evening in need of a place to crash for a few weeks. Despite Garth's mom's concerns, Garth finds himself immediately warming to Mike. Mike has the sort of confidence Garth wishes he had, and when he tells Mike about his sexuality, Mike is not only accepting, but also encouraging. Yet even as Mike helps Garth feel more comfortable with himself, he starts to involve Garth in a series of increasingly elaborate money-making schemes. As desperately as his family could use the cash, Garth can't help feeling the pressure of all the secrets he's suddenly keeping. But how can trusting the person who's given him the support he so needs be wrong? IN MIKE WE TRUST is full of those sorts of tricky moral dilemmas, and watching Garth navigate them is just part of the novel's appeal. Ryan offers no easy answers, and Garth's responses feel completely authentic. The stifling Garth feels is vividly drawn, as is his developing relationship with another gay teen. The conclusion wraps up several loose ends in a believable but optimistic way, and leaves others open to the reader's imagination. Teens who've struggled with parents who can't quite accept them for who they are - whether their sexuality or any other aspect of their identity - will find much to relate to, not to mention hope. Recommended to all fans of contemporary YA.
DrDonnie More than 1 year ago
Patrick Ryan is a natural writer. With each turned page, his characters are slowly and authentically revealed. Garth, the central person of the novel, is immediately likeable. The reader initially emphathsizes with Garth, then comes to care, and finally cheers for him in his struggle for integrity. The book is readily accessible as Ryan has an easy, inviting style. Although aimed at a young audience, this novel, like any that is well written, has appeal to anyone who simply enjoys excellent writing. For young readers it will be more than "a good read". To the author I say "congratulations"! I look forward to the next offering from this thoughful and extremeley talented author.