Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Rainbow Boys

Rainbow Boys

4.7 172
by Alex Sanchez

View All Available Formats & Editions

Jason Carrillo is a jock with a steady girlfriend, but he can't stop dreaming about sex...with other guys.

Kyle Meeks doesn't look gay, but he is. And he hopes he never has to tell anyone — especially his parents.

Nelson Glassman is "out" to the entire world, but he can't tell the boy he loves that he wants to be more than


Jason Carrillo is a jock with a steady girlfriend, but he can't stop dreaming about sex...with other guys.

Kyle Meeks doesn't look gay, but he is. And he hopes he never has to tell anyone — especially his parents.

Nelson Glassman is "out" to the entire world, but he can't tell the boy he loves that he wants to be more than just friends.

Three teenage boys, coming of age and out of the closet. In a revealing debut novel that percolates with passion and wit, Alex Sanchez follows these very different high-school seniors as their struggles with sexuality and intolerance draw them into a triangle of love, betrayal, and ultimately, friendship.

Editorial Reviews

Jason, Kyle and Nelson hang out in three very different cliques at their high school. Jason is a top football player with a serious girlfriend, Kyle is a quiet, serious student and Nelson is a flamboyant loner. All three are gay. Each one of these teenagers faces different coming-out issues: Jason does not want to admit that he is gay—especially to himself, even though he fantasizes about making love to a boy. Kyle feels comfortable with being gay, but does not want to tell his parents. And Nelson is physically bullied for being openly out to his family and peers. Seeking help and friendship through a Gay/ Straight Alliance, the three boys learn how to be themselves and stand up to their tormentors, who are not just ignorant students but also older predators and gay bashers. Just as he frankly addresses the hardships the boys endure, Sanchez writes with clear, honest language about their exhilarating first sexual experiences.
—Kristin Kloberdanz

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sanchez's debut novel chronicles the senior year of three gay teens struggling with issues ranging from coming out to first love to an HIV scare. The story lines communicate a hint of an educational agenda (Sanchez sprinkles in the names of support groups like Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays into the novel, and lists contact information for organizations at the end), but the characters' complicated feelings are well drawn, and readers will find themselves interested in each of the protagonists' lives. Sanchez creates modern situations that speak to contemporary teens: Nelson and Kyle stand up to their principal for the right to form a gay-straight alliance at their school, and Nelson has unprotected sex with a stranger he meets online. The relationship between Kyle and closeted jock Jason also develops realistically, and the awkward triangle among the three males builds subtly and convincingly. Readers will learn and understand both boys' perspectives, from Jason's fear that he will be found out to Kyle's growing agitation at his mixed messages. Some of the writing is stilted ("You would've thought the prodigal son had come home," Sanchez writes when Kyle finally connects with his father), and some of the language and sexual situations may be too mature for some readers, but overall there's enough conflict, humor and tenderness to make this story believableDand touching. Ages 12-up. (Oct). Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
PW called this story about the senior year of three gay teens struggling with issues ranging from coming out to first love to an HIV scare "believable and touching." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The only thing Jason, Kyle, and Nelson have in common is that they attend the same high school. Well, perhaps that is not entirely true—Jason is a student athlete with a steady girl but whose fantasies sometimes involve boys;Kyle is gay, but only he knows it;and Nelson is gay and everyone knows it. As the three boys narrate in alternating chapters, readers slowly are exposed to each teen's personal world, private feelings, and public lives. Nelson desperately wants to find someone to love him, and because of that desire, makes some foolish and perhaps deadly decisions. Kyle wants to build a relationship with Jason, although Jason is ostensibly heterosexual. Jason wants to hold on to his straight lifestyle—at all costs. Although the topic of gay high school students is not new, this book brings some new issues to the forefront, such as body image for boys and Internet predators. Unfortunately, the book tries to bring all of the issues to light, resulting in a novel that does not have a clear focus. Although readers come to know each of the boys quite well, they will find themselves bombarded by issue after issue, and it is difficult to move so swiftly from topic to topic. Many teens will face some of these issues at some time, but attempting to deal with them all here is just too overwhelming. On the plus side, this book does a remarkable job dealing with the feelings and emotions of a gay teenager experiencing his first crush, and for that reason, this book is an important purchase for libraries serving teens. VOYA CODES:3Q 3P S (Readable without serious defects;Will appeal with pushing;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Simon & Schuster, 256p, $17. Ages 15 to18. Reviewer:Lynn Evarts—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
Children's Literature
Alex Sanchez goes where few authors have dared to go with this novel about three gay high school seniors coming to terms with their sexuality. Nelson is flamboyant, defiant and openly gay. Kyle is Nelson's friend, shy and struggling to get the courage to "come out" to his parents. Jason is a basketball star with a sexy girlfriend, troubled by erotic dreams about men and an overall sexual confusion. Each chapter takes the viewpoint of one of the three boys, thus masterfully bringing to the table a broad range of homosexual issues. "Coming out" is a process that is different for each individual. The triumph of this book lies in its evenhanded treatment of complex sexual issues and in its message of tolerance for all human beings. The frightening reality of HIV infection is sensibly portrayed. Candid sex scenes are related skillfully and honestly. One can only hope that a work such as this will serve as a beacon for youths of all sexual orientations. Included is a listing of a half dozen organizations providing more information and help for gay and lesbian teens. 2001, Simon & Schuster, $17.00. Ages 14 up. Reviewer:Christopher Moning
To quote KLIATT's September 2001 review of the hardcover edition: Jason, Kyle, and Nelson are in high school together, and each is struggling with his sexuality and how others perceive it. Jason is a basketball star with a steady girlfriend, but he has disturbing dreams about naked men. Shy Kyle has always had a crush on Jason, but he has been too afraid to approach him, or even to openly admit that he is gay. Meanwhile, Kyle's friend Nelson is proud of being flamboyantly gay, though he's never even kissed anyone; his supportive mother is active in the PFLAG organization (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Nelson has a secret crush on Kyle. When Jason musters his courage to attend a meeting of Rainbow Youth, a group for gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people, he meets the other two, and life changes for all of them. Fed up with all the gay bashing he has endured, Nelson decides to start a Gay-Straight Alliance at school, with Kyle's support. Kyle finally comes out to his parents, and he and Jason enter into a relationship. Nelson, jealous of Kyle's relationship with Jason, has unprotected sex with a stranger he met online, and worries about AIDS. Jason's violent father leaves his family, and tormented Jason starts to come to terms with his feelings. The book ends on a hopeful note, as the school's Gay-Straight Alliance becomes a reality. This sympathetic, well-written look at gay teen life and the difficulties of coming out includes detailed information at the back about organizing a peer group, PFLAG and other organizations, AIDS, and more. The subject matter and adult language recommend this to mature students; there are no graphic details of sex, however. YAs who arestruggling with some of the same issues will appreciate this realistic, caring portrayal of the relationships between the three boys and their efforts to accept their sexuality in the face of intolerance. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 234p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Nelson, "out" to the world, is secretly in love with his best friend Kyle. Kyle doesn't look gay or advertise it, but since he hangs out with Nelson, he's subject to the same harassment at school. Kyle is secretly in love with Jason, a popular jock who has a popular girlfriend but who can't stop dreaming of sex with boys. When Jason, trying to sort out his confusion, shows up at a Rainbow Youth meeting, he is greeted by both "Nelly" and Kyle, who are as shocked to see him as he is to be seen. This uncomfortable confrontation starts the ball rolling down a path of deception, denial, revelation, and acceptance not only for the three young men, but also for their friends, family, and all concerned. This gutsy, in-your-face debut novel speaks the language of real life for gay teens, that of the ecstasy, heartache, and humor of first love (and sex), that of daily harassment and fear, that of having what it takes to stand up and be proud of who you are. There will no doubt be challenges to Rainbow Boys, much like the challenges of Judy Blume's Forever (Turtleback, 1975) when it was published in the 1970s. But please, have the courage to make it available to those who need it-it can open eyes and change lives.-Betty S. Evans, Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The lives of three suburban high school students become dramatically entangled in a manner familiar mostly to high-schoolers and soap-opera fans. Jason has a girlfriend (with whom he has sex), but he thinks a lot about male bodies and increasingly questions his sexuality. Kyle is the star of the swimming team who has known for a long time that he's gay, but he's still in the closet. Nelson is openly-and flamboyantly-gay. Jason is going steady with Debra; Kyle has a crush on Jason; Nelson has a crush on Kyle. Two of the boys have loving, concerned parents. One comes from a troubled family with an alcoholic father. And those are not nearly all the plots and subplots, all of which more or less get tied up by the end. The chapters rotate among the viewpoints of the three boys, a narrative technique that provides a crystal picture of each character. It also drives home the homophobia at school and the abuse the guys suffer and provides a lot of information about gay sexuality in the same way that Judy Blume's Forever did for the heterosexual experience. Unlike some earlier novels about homosexuality, the persecution of the three boys is named plainly for what it is-homophobia-and not the hand of a punishing fate. Although marred by occasional melodramatic turns and some contrivance in the ending, this is a fine first effort, thought-provoking and informative for all young adults. The use of profanity and explicit descriptions of sexual activities call for a mature reader. There is a list of advocacy groups at the end, unusual in a novel, but understandable, perhaps necessary, in this one. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
Nancy Garden author of Annie on My Mind and Good Moon Rising There are still woefully few books for young adults that explore in depth the coming-out process of young gay men. Alex Sanchez touches on nearly all the issues involved, taking his readers on a journey through the world of three gay teenagers as they struggle with virginity, sex, body image, denial, support groups, homophobia, activism, gay bashing, parental and peer reactions, Internet predators, HIV — and love.

Patricia Nell Warren author of The Front Runner Rainbow Boys may do for high-schoolers what Heather Has Two Mommies did for grade-schoolers — inspire acceptance of gayness in both straight students and about-to-come-out students.

James Howe author of The Watcher An important, groundbreaking book, Rainbow Boys takes an honest look at gay teen life today. The characters are enormously appealing and the situations as contemporary as the evening news. This is a book that could change thinking — and could very well change lives.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
6.33(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.94(d)
460L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Two

Kyle stared at the empty doorway. "I can't believe I was such a spaz, knocking the damn chairs over." He turned to Nelson. "And you! Giving him that stupid button. Why'd you do that?"

Nelson gave a contrite shrug. "I guess I screwed up, didn't I?"

Kyle glanced toward the door. "Maybe I can catch up with him."

In an instant, he raced through the door and down the four flights. When he reached the front stoop, he looked down one end of the street, then the other. Had the man of his dreams really shown up at the meeting? He searched every block around the neighborhood. Only after he was completely convinced Jason was nowhere to be found did he grudgingly board the Metro toward the suburbs. Crestfallen, he cursed Nelson all the way home.

* * *

"Kyle? Honey, are you okay?"

Deep in thought, Kyle had failed to see his mom kneeling by the front-lawn flower bed.

She grabbed a handful of tulip bulbs. "You look a little troubled."

Kyle watched her plant the bulbs in the newly dug earth, wishing he could tell her about Jason. Of course, first he'd have to tell her he was gay. She'd get upset and tell his dad. He'd make a federal case out of it. Guaranteed.

Kyle handed her some bulbs. "I'm fine. Is there anything to eat?"

"Cookies, in the kitchen. Be careful, I just waxed the floor. By the way, Dad has a surprise for you." She called after him. "Remember to wipe your feet!"

Kyle kicked his shoes off inside the front door and set them on the shelf for shoes. His mom was pretty obsessive about cleanliness. His dad sat in his recliner watching a football game. Kyle grabbed a couple of cookies. "Mom said you have a surprise for me."

His dad reached into his shirt pocket and with a flourish whipped out an envelope. "Ta-dah! Guess. Come on."

Kyle hated when his dad treated him like a kid. He was seventeen now. "I don't want to guess." He bit into a cookie.

His dad's mouth drooped. "You used to love to guess." He sighed and opened the envelope, revealing the contents like he was at the Academy Awards or something. "Tickets to the Redskins, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Just you and me."

Kyle said, "Great." But his mind was still on Jason.

His dad frowned. "Don't look so excited."

Kyle shrugged and started up the stairs. Didn't his dad realize there were more important things in life than tickets to the Redskins?

He sat down on his bed and took his cap off. He opened his nightstand drawer and pulled out his yearbook. He turned the dog-eared pages to his favorite picture: Jason, number seventy-seven, was racing down the court, intensity on his face, curls flying, muscles taut, sheer power in motion. The crowd was cheering in the background. The digital clock showed six seconds before the final buzzer. His shot had led the team to the state championships.

Kyle had met Jason on his first day of high school as he jostled through the crowded halls, searching for his homeroom.

"Hey, wha's up?" called a voice behind him. "You dropped your schedule."

When Kyle turned, the cutest boy he'd ever seen handed him his schedule and asked, "Know where room one twenty-eight is?"

Kyle's heart wedged in his throat, but he managed to cough up an answer. "I think it's this way." He led the boy down the hall and discovered that their lockers faced each other.

For the rest of his freshman year Kyle arrived at school early enough to greet Jason. His olive-skinned Adonis always waved a friendly "Wha's up?" but Kyle felt too shy to respond with anything beyond, "Okay, how about you?" He contented himself with stealing glimpses in the halls. Before long he'd memorized Jason's schedule, knowing the exact instant when he would turn the corner and pass by.

Since Kyle was little, he'd known he was different, though he couldn't explain exactly how. When other boys began to talk about girls, he never felt interested. But it was another story when they bragged about their erections and first ejaculations.

And while he laughed with classmates at fag and AIDS jokes, on the inside he felt ashamed and frightened. His one source of hope was the nightly news, where he saw images of gay people different from the caricatures of jokes. Gay soldiers battled in court for the right to serve in the military. Lesbian moms fought to keep their children. Protesters picketed Congress for AIDS funding. Even the grown men in high heels and elaborate costumes who laughed and paraded on Pride Day seemed anything but despicable.

Then in eighth grade he got braces. That made him feel even more like an alien. His mom tried to cheer him up. "Don't worry, handsome. Once you get your braces off, you'll have to fight off the girls." Whoopee. The image failed to comfort him.

Meanwhile, his dad nagged him to go out for sports. Kyle couldn't throw a ball to save his life, but he liked watching the Olympic swimmers on TV. So he joined the swim team, where he hid among laps in the pool and stole underwater glances.

He was just getting used to being called Metal Mouth Meeks when disaster struck again. The school nurse said he needed glasses. He came home from the optometrist's with wire frames sliding down his nose, retreated to his bedroom, and stared in the mirror. Between braces and glasses, he felt like the ugliest, most lonely boy in the universe.

Then he met Nelson. From the moment he first saw him in art class, Kyle knew Nelson was different. But when Ms. MacTraugh paired them up to draw each other's portraits, Kyle panicked and asked to be excused to the infirmary.

After school, Nelson tracked him down. "Let's get this out. You know I'm queer, I know you're queer. Get over it." He turned and started to walk away.

Kyle felt a rush, like he'd burst from the water after a high dive. He was no longer alone. "Hey!" he shouted.

Nelson turned back toward him. Kyle wasn't sure what to say. He'd called out on impulse, without thinking. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and tugged on his cap, stalling. "Uh, you draw really well. I mean it."

Nelson stared at him. "Thanks. My mom's a graphic designer. She taught me. It's not that hard, really."

Kyle stepped closer, even though he still felt a little nervous. "Really?"

"Yeah." Nelson smiled. "I'll show you."

Soon Kyle was spending every afternoon at Nelson's. They wrestled without dumb rules and did mud facials together. With Nelson, Kyle didn't have to pretend to be anything other than himself.

And Nelson seemed to know everything about being gay. He told Kyle about Alexander the Great, Oscar Wilde, and Michelangelo. He explained the Stonewall Riots and defined words like cruising and drag. He told Kyle about gay youth Web sites and introduced him to out music groups like Size Queen and Indigo Girls.

The most amazing thing was how Nelson talked about all this stuff in front of his own mom. She even subscribed to XY magazine for him.

"How did you ever tell her?" Kyle wanted to know.

Nelson lit a cigarette. "You kidding? She knew before I did. I'm her fucking cause."

Kyle thought about it. "And your dad?"

Nelson's face darkened behind a puff of smoke. "Never mind him."

When the subject changed to boys, Kyle confided he had a crush on a boy at school. He even admitted that he kissed his pillow at night pretending it was him.

Nelson took a drag on his cigarette. "What's his name?"

"Promise you won't tell?" Kyle hesitated. "Jason Carrillo."

Nelson burst out coughing. "Carrillo? Ding-ding-ding! Gay-dar! Gay-dar! Closet case. Big time. At least bi."

Kyle felt as if Nelson had just smacked him. "Shut up. He is not. How do you know?"

Nelson grinned. "The same way I knew about you."

Now Kyle thought back on it. Maybe Nelson had been right about Jason. But everyone knew Jason had a girlfriend. Last year they'd been voted Cutest Couple. This year Debra was running for homecoming queen.

Jason couldn't be gay. But then why had he shown up at the Rainbow Youth meeting? Maybe he was bi. But even if he was, Jason would never be interested in him. He'd probably walked in by mistake, like he said. But Kyle hoped he hadn't.

His mom tapped on the doorway of his bedroom, smiling. "Honey, are you sure you're feeling all right?" She raised her eyebrows. "I've called you to dinner three times already."

The high point of the meal was a phone call from Nelson. Kyle's dad picked up his knife and cut into his beef. "Doesn't he know not to call at dinnertime?"

His mom extended the receiver to Kyle. Without even saying hello, Nelson started talking. "Where did you go?"

Kyle turned away from his parents. "None of your business."

"Stop being such a drama diva! Come on. What do you want to do tonight?"

Kyle pondered for a moment. "Slit my wrists."

Nelson sighed into the phone. "Yeah, and after that?"

"I don't know," Kyle said. "I. Don't. Know." He slammed the receiver down and returned to the table.

"Sounds like you two had a fight," his mom said.

Kyle nodded tentatively and sat down.

His dad stabbed a piece of meat with his fork. "Why does he have to call you every five minutes? Doesn't he have a life?" His dad waved his wrist in the air. "Maybe you should develop some friends that are less, you know, that are more..." His hand took a nosedive and thudded onto the table. "Athletic!"

Kyle's mom glared at his dad and tugged on her ear. Kyle had figured out years ago that this was a signal for his dad to lay off. It usually took his dad a while to catch on, and tonight Kyle didn't feel like waiting. He grabbed his cap from the back of his chair. "Can I be excused?"

Back in his bedroom Kyle tried some homework, then scanned Jason's yearbook photo into his computer. He turned off his light and rolled over in bed. His mind drifted to images of Jason in the locker room of tenth-grade gym class — his biceps bulging against his T-shirt sleeves, his butt framed by his jockstrap. Kyle wrapped his arm around his pillow and, smiling, fell asleep.

The following Monday, Kyle arrived at school early, determined to find Jason and apologize about Nelson. But Jason was nowhere to be found. As Kyle watched for him outside the cafeteria at lunch, he heard Nelson's voice come up behind him.

"I made you a tape of the new Pansy Division." Nelson held out a cassette. "Truly gorgeous."

"Thanks." Kyle slipped the tape into his pocket, hoping Nelson would leave before Jason showed up.

Nelson's face brightened. "You going to lunch?"

"Not hungry. You go ahead."

But Nelson didn't budge. He stuck a finger into his blond hair and scratched. "You still upset about Saturday?"

"No," Kyle lied. "Look, just leave me alone."

"I'm sorry, for the thousandth fucking time."

Kyle turned away.

"Fine," Nelson said. "If you're going to be a dick about it." He strode off.

Kyle didn't see Jason at lunch — or for the rest of the afternoon. When the last bell rang, he sulked toward his locker. Maybe Jason was sick or, more likely, too embarrassed to come to school. Kyle tossed his books into his locker, then closed the door.

There stood Jason, clutching his red backpack across his shoulder. "Wha's up?"

Startled, Kyle pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Uh, hi."

Jason twisted his backpack strap in his hand and looked over his shoulder, taking a sweeping glance of the thinning crowd of students. "I kept stopping by here looking for you today." He cocked his head — a caring look. "I thought maybe you were sick."

Kyle melted beneath Jason's brown eyes. "I'm sorry," he said, though he wasn't certain why he was apologizing. "That's what I thought. I mean..." He didn't know what he was saying, only that he was making a fool of himself. He shut his mouth and forced a smile.

"Listen." Jason swallowed and his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat. He looked left, then right, then straight at Kyle. "About last Saturday...I wasn't sure what kind of meeting it was."

Kyle knew it was a lie but nodded politely. What else could he do?

Jason continued, his voice low. "You haven't told anyone, have you? I mean, that you saw me there?"

Kyle saw the fear and shame in Jason's face. "Of course not. I wouldn't tell anyone."

Jason let out a sigh but then added, "You don't think Nelly — I mean, Nelson — will tell anyone, do you?"

Kyle didn't think so, but Jason's worry made him worry too. Abruptly Jason drew back, gazing behind Kyle. Kyle turned and saw Debra Wyler, Jason's girlfriend.

"Hi, Kyle." She gave him a sweet smile, and Kyle said hi back.

But Jason looked scared senseless. Kyle realized he'd better leave. "Well, I'll see you later."

"Later," Jason said, and smiled a forced, worried smile.

Kyle stepped down the hall, picking up his pace. He had to find Nelson and make sure he didn't tell anyone about Jason. He hoped it wasn't too late.

Copyright © 2001 by Alex Sanchez

Meet the Author

Alex Sanchez spent almost fifteen years working with youth. He is the author of the teen novels Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Bait, The God Box, Getting It, Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road, as well as the Lambda Award–winning middle-grade novel So Hard to Say. Lambda Literary Foundation honored Alex with an Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize. He lives in Thailand and Hollywood, Florida. Visit him at AlexSanchez.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >