Tale of Two Summers [NOOK Book]

Overview

08:06 p.m.
Saturday 07.29.06


You are in L-O-V-E. Notice how I have no hesitation spelling it. At all. Reason? That was just the wildest entry you've posted! Ever....You are so seeing the world through the eyes of L-O-V-E.

A ten-year best friendship is put to the test when Chuck and Hal spend their first summer apart falling for two ...
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Tale of Two Summers

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Overview

08:06 p.m.
Saturday 07.29.06


You are in L-O-V-E. Notice how I have no hesitation spelling it. At all. Reason? That was just the wildest entry you've posted! Ever....You are so seeing the world through the eyes of L-O-V-E.

A ten-year best friendship is put to the test when Chuck and Hal spend their first summer apart falling for two questionable mates: a sexy Saudi songstress and a smokin' hot French punk. As Chuck heads off to summer theater camp and Hal stays in their hometown, learning how to drive, they keep in touch via blogging, reporting to each other about their suddenly separate lives and often ridiculous romantic entanglements. As both their relationships take some unexpected turns, Hal and Chuck struggle to come to terms with their growing differences while trying to keep their friendship alive.
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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
This novel is written as a blog between two fifteen-year-old boys who have been best friends for ten years. Because it will be their first summer apart, Chuck, who is spending six weeks at a nearby university in a summer arts theater camp, decided that a blog would be the best way to keep in touch. Hal is gay and recently "came out" to Chuck but not to anyone else and is prepared for a dull summer, looking forward to only a driver's ed course and the prospect of getting his license. But then Henri Broussard, the son of a French diplomat, enters his life and Hal's boring summer is suddenly transformed. Both boys are hoping to lose their virginity-Chuck with one of the divas in the musical and Hal with Henri. The voice of each character is distinct and authentic as they share their deepest secrets and the thrilling anticipation of their pending relationships. Sex happens, and Sloan's characters do not couch it in euphemisms. Chuck and Hal chronicle this daily life in their blog, and what emerges is a genuine depiction of how two teenage boys view themselves and those around them. The characters are believable, and the blog enables them to bare their souls to one another. This book is for readers mature enough to handle some very direct, realistic, and often-humorous entries about heterosexuality, homosexuality, masturbation, and alcohol and marijuana use. This title would be ideal for discussion within Gay/Straight Alliance groups. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2006, Simon & Schuster, 240p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—LoisParker-Hennion
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-For the first time in their history as best friends, Hal and Chuck will be spending the summer apart: Chuck to attend a summer theater camp and Hal to stay in their hometown of Wheaton, MD, and learn to drive. To ensure contact throughout their separation, Chuck sets up a private blog where the boys can post daily messages about their adventures (or lack thereof), the text of which constitutes this witty novel. Sloan succeeds at the dual voicing of the characters; from the first entries, the teens' distinct voices are clear. Much of their virtual conversation revolves around their summer romantic prospects and their pursuit of emotionally as well as physically meaningful relationships. This somewhat typical premise is complicated by the fact that Hal is gay and has newly outed himself to Chuck. As they compare their experiences, the boys are also working together to define what Hal's sexual identity means in the context of their friendship. Many of their entries involve discussions of the physiological dimensions of intimacy, such as when Chuck asks, "Not to be crude or anything, but exactly how does a gay guy lose his virginity-is that actually possible?" Hal's answer is frank, explicit, and endearing. Compared to Melvin Burgess's Doing It (Holt, 2004), this novel is less deliberately bawdy and more realistic, earthy, and even sweet. Like David Levithan and Julie Ann Peters, Sloan is breaking ground among the greats of gay-themed young adult fiction.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Two best friends, Hal and Chuck, spend their first summer apart. Chuck, the love-smitten, accepting actor, goes to theatre camp. Hal, the charmingly wry curmudgeon, stays home and falls for a pot-smoking French boy. What follows is their hilarious, button-pushing, sincere and very intense blog-o-spondence as they recall and reflect upon each other's madcap summer adventures. Readers will notice, however, that their tete-a-tete soon gives way to weighty and multi-layered discussions about friendship, love, self-respect, sex and physical attraction. Sloan's freshly believable reality and smart-alecky teen-speak lightens the mood, but their conversations often become so intense the reader will find themselves turning the pages at a slower rate. Even so, the level of complexity frees up Sloan to take Chuck and Hal's friendship in directions that no gay-themed YA novel has ever been before. Their path, traced from a drunken misunderstanding to an unabashed and candid dialogue of ideas and dreams, optimistically underscores a time when young gay and straight men can come together in close, meaningful friendship. And, where they can bandy ideas back and forth in an unflinching manner without worrying they'll offend each other. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Freshly believable reality...the level of complexity frees up Sloan to take Chuck and Hal's friendship in directions that no gay-themed YA novel has ever been before."
Kirkus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442407305
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 978,085
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Brian Sloan is an independent filmmaker. His first feature, the screwball comedy I Think I Do, was praised by the New York Times as "hysterically funny and very smart." Brian broke onto the indie scene with the short film Pool Days, his NYU thesis project. Dealing with the sexual misadventures of a teenage lifeguard, the film screened at more than fifty film festivals, including Sundance and New Directors. Brian helped assemble a package of three short films (including Pool Days) around the theme of teen-agers coming out, Boys Life, which eventually spawned three sequels.
A Really Nice Prom Mess is his first novel. Brian lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

Tale of Two Summers


By Brian Sloan

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Copyright © 2006 Brian Sloan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0689874391

Week 1

08:54 P.M.

MONDAY 07.10.06

So, right off the bat, I have to say that this whole blog thing you've set up is totally gay. Now, I know that being gay and all I really shouldn't use "gay" in such a derogatory way, but what can I say? Writing blogs is so damn GAY I can't even discuss it. But this was your idea and you're supposedly straight, which makes the whole thing somewhat disturbing, actually: that straight-old-you could come up with such a gay-old-idea for keeping in touch over the course of the summer. But I guess there's no accounting for sexuality or something.

And I know I agreed to do this when we talked and everything, but still, I just have to let you know my true thoughts on this matter before going any further with this gay exercise in futility. I just don't see why simple e-mail would not suffice. I mean, people have been using that since the beginning of time (or the beginning of the Internet -- same difference) as a decent mode of effective, semi-instant communication. So I don't know why you're so set on this Xanga.com, blogosphere thing. And why, good God, did you have to go and title the thing "Tale of Two Summers"? I mean, you make it sound like some friggin' Judy Blume novel!

Now,I know your whole rationale for this is that e-mails are disposable and deletable and you want to have a record of our big summer apart so that when we're 30 we can look back on it and be like, man, what a couple of losers we were back in the teenage day. But believe me, I will not be longing to look back and see what a pair of idiots we were for saving an online record of our every little thought and meaningless activity, especially when, on my end at least, there is really not gonna be much to report. Except, of course, my farting. Wait a sec -- I feel one coming...[FART]. Ah, much better.

Regardless -- here is my first entry. Are you happy yet? I'm not. It's Monday night and it's been a crummy first day of you not being here in crappy old Wheaton, Maryland. If there is any place more boring on earth to spend a sweltering summer by my goddamn self, I can't think of one. And you know what? If I could think of a place that was more stultifying, I might even go there just for a change of scenery, because, after almost 16 years, the sheer deadliness of our little 'burb is really starting to bug me out. Then, on top of that, toss into the mix the fact that I had my first day back at good ol' Einstein H.S. for day one of "Driving Instruction and Road Safety Training" (formerly known as "Driver's Ed"; see "20th century"), and I am clearly about ready to lose it.

I said it to you yesterday in your driveway and I will say it again: You are the luckiest damn dog to go hang out at the University of Maryland for the balance of the summer and learn your craft as an actor/singer/waiter. I only wish I had some ounce of talent to join you, but, as we all know, my only talent worth mentioning (i.e., farting) is, uh, not worth mentioning. Badump-chik! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.... I'm here all summer. That's right, ALL SUMMER! OK -- enough bitching. I can already see you shaking your head at my misanthropic missive. Still, being stuck here all alone for the next six weeks is a major drag, especially given the fact that you're not really that far away, even, just a few miles around the old Beltway. You know, I still don't see why I can't just come visit for an afternoon or hang out with you after dinner or something. What is up with UMD's severe anti-guest policy? They act like I'm gonna contaminate the whole batch of you with my lack-of-talent and cause an uncontrollable outbreak of averageness or something. But I digress....

So I guess I'll get to the business at hand, which is "keeping in touch." Christ -- now I've lost my train of thought. This is why the occasional phone call would be easier!!! They must have a few pay phones there? Oh right -- you said something about how I'm uncommunicative on the phone. Well, you know, this was news to me. I think I'm always pretty forthcoming and chatty on the phone, whether discussing what asshole called me a faggot in the hall that day or giving a recap of the latest heartbreak on The O.C. So I'm not sure what you meant by uncommunicative and -- wait a second. I get it. NOW you're gonna say, "Well, why didn't you ask me when we were talking -- that's being uncommunicative." So this was some sort of trap, eh? Well -- all I can say is, dude, that heart-to-heart in the driveway was creeping me out. You actors are so damn emotional sometimes. What is up with that?! All right, I keep getting distracted here because it takes so much longer to write some passing thought than to just say it. And since I can't just talk to you, I'm trying to make this bloody blog work as a one-sided conversation as opposed to some old-fashioned "journal." But I will now try to be coherent and cohesive and give you a running account of [insert drum roll here]...

MY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER WITHOUT CHUCK

Our story begins way too bright and much too early with Valerie rousing me at 7:30 for the usual breakfast bonanza of eggs/bacon/ bagels/juice/fruit cup/coffee. Fortunately, I managed to decline everything except the juice and, despite my lack of cooperation, she was kind enough to drop me at Einstein on her way to work. It was so weird to be back there in the summer...the place is so damn empty, walking down the halls and actually hearing the sound of your own feet and not the usual stampede of thousands. And guess what? No, no -- sorry, not that either. I wasn't harassed once! The one and only plus of the day.

Our driving class was located just off the main corridor, 115-B. Where we had English last year, 'member? As for the class itself, there are about 20 people enrolled in hell with me, most of whom I don't know because they are kids from the year ahead of us (me being the sage of our class due to my August b-day) and/or they are from other county schools. One person I did know which you will find hi-lar-i-ous is Joey Kelly, from back in da day at Randolph Elementary? I hadn't seen him since graduation, but he still looked the same -- that is, retarded. Just taller and bigger and, thus, more retarded. Even though he goes to Prep now, Joey is still the same old cheap-ass he was in eighth grade, evidenced by his sponging on the free county-sponsored driving class.

Anyway, Joey was wondering what you're up to, so I told him, and he made fun of the whole summer-theater-camp thing -- what a shocker, right? I mean, did Joey ever have a positive reaction to anyone's good news...ever? Fortunately, I was able to avoid sitting next to Joey by deftly pretending I knew someone else in the class, even though I didn't know a bloody soul. Pretty good acting for an amateur. (Hey -- any last-minute openings in your improv class?) So I snagged a seat in the back row next to this hot blonde chick named Brett. Have you ever heard of a girl named Brett? Neither had I, but she is definitely 100 percent girl. I know I'm not supposed to notice these things now that I'm officially a guy-lover, but DAMN -- this girl has got it going on, being majorly stacked and sporting the cutest face I've ever seen. You know what? You might even like her, except for the fact that she seems like a wicked bad seed. Which, of course, is why I gravitated to her immediately (heh-heh...).

Our driving instructor? Uhhhh, not so cute. It's this hulking goon who also does time as an assistant coach for the football team, Mr. Tlucek. (Remember him? From your ill-fated year on JV?) OMG -- this guy is such a tool! The first thing he says to us in this deeply serious "I-am-God" voice was this little gem: "Listen up, people, driving is not a right. It's a privilege." What the hell! I mean, I know it's not on the Bill of Rights or anything, but a "privilege"? I thought it was my right when I turn age 16 in, oh, 28 days, to get my driver's license and finally have the right to get the F out of Wheaton at 70 mph without looking back. But I guess I was mistook. At least according to Coach Tlucek.

Anyway, after he drops this line on us with all the seriousness of Moses on the Mount, Brett and I turn to each other, our eyes rolling way up into the backs of our heads, and start cracking up. That's when I knew we would click. She is a trip! Later, during our break, she said she couldn't give a crap whether driving is a right, a privilege, or a door prize. She's only taking the class to humor her 'rents and doesn't even want to get a license when she's done. Her attitude is like, "Why should I learn how to drive when boys are gonna take me where I want to go anyway?" I was of half a mind to be like, "hells yeah...me, too!" Until, that is, I realized the pool of eligible Einstein homos to shuttle me around the D.C. metro area is slightly smaller than the one Brett's working with. (Who'm I kidding -- it's like nonexistent!) Actually, I even told her this line, and she busted out laughing. Check it out -- she didn't seem to mind the whole gay thing at all, which was refreshing for a change, right? Go Brett! Yeaaaaa! [Insert queerleaders doing a cheer.]

So on that rare, "campy" note I will end my first entry. I hope all this useless information about my so-called life today in Wheaton (a.k.a. the Black Hole of Suburbia) has truly enlightened you and brought us closer than ever. (Yeah, right.) Thusly, I will sign off, as always, your friend, confidante, and troubled soul...Hal.

PS -- Have you gotten laid yet at "college"?

09:05 A.M.

TUESDAY 07.11.06

Dear Whiny in Wheaton,

Well. In the one day that I have been gone from your life you have lost none of your knack for being a raving lunatic. Thank God I set this blog up so at least you'll have an outlet for your half-baked rants while I'm gone. Otherwise, you'd probably be standing outside of 7-Eleven saying these things out loud. To people. Normal people. Which means, of course, you'd be in jail by now. And surely Wheaton would be a safer place. (ha)

I'm writing you from the fancy McKibbin Library computer center on my half hour of free time before our first workshop of the day. It's too bad we can't IM or something, but I'm assuming there are no computers in driving class, where you're currently trapped. Despite all your protests, I think you've taken to the blog pretty decently. Since we won't exactly be around to share the details of our summer adventures directly, I still wanna at least know them all indirectly. Which is why I thought the blog would be a cool way to keep in touch -- longer than e-mails and, yes, something that we can look back on.

Why you may ask? Well, ignoring dark Prince Hal's typically grim predictions, I think this summer is gonna be great! For BOTH of us. You're gonna get your driver's license, which is like a passport to freedom, despite what Tlucek may say. (Voice of God -- that's so true!) And I'm gonna get to live like a real bachelor and meet lots of hot chicks from all over the state who have no idea what an ass I am. Hopefully, their ignorance will get me laid. Eventually. And no, it hasn't happened yet. Yet. Implying it will. Soon. And don't roll your eyes at me like that....

Despite my lack of sexual action so far, there is still tons to report. So much that I don't know where to start. I've been here only two days and it feels like a month -- all these new faces and places. I guess I'll start with my swinging bachelor pad. I'm on the third floor of St. Ann's Hall, an old, red-brick dorm, sharing a decent-size room with this guy from Baltimore who is also named Charles. However, unlike me, he does not go by Chuck. Not even Charlie. Get this -- he demands to be known as "Chaz." I was like, whaaaaatttt?! But he was insistent about it. Said it was his stage name. Chaz. Oooo-kay.

Now, as you may have guessed from the nickname and the attitude, Chaz is a lover of men. (Gays at theater camp -- shocking, right?) Not that we had a big discussion about this or anything. Nothing like your coming-out chat back in January, that's for sure. No -- I found this out because in the first 10 minutes of our conversation Chaz mentioned two of his ex-boyfriends and alluded to two others. I was like, "Dude, how many exes do you have?" He said five, total, but he doesn't talk about the fifth guy, getting all dramatic about it, saying he is the "one whose name cannot be uttered." I was like, "What...the ex-boyfriend formerly known as Prince?"

Chaz is a serious character. Get this -- last night he started getting into this whole project to "revamp" our dorm room. No joke! Chaz was flipping through an Ikea catalog till all hours and, as I type, he is sitting at a terminal next to me ordering stuff online. He said he wants to make our place feel, and I quote, "more like a cute artist's studio than a cramped dorm room." Oh yeah -- we're not actors or singers. Chaz insists that we are artists. (?!?!) So, as you may have guessed, Chaz is slightly insane. But his madness, fortunately, is more on the positive/productive side. Unlike some people I know who will remain anonymous.

Hey -- you know what?! I just had a brainstorm. Maybe Chaz would be a good balance for your darker brand of insanity. You guys would be a pretty interesting couple. And I could make it happen. Hey, look at me -- I'm the gay matchmaker! LOL As for me and Chaz "living together," you don't have to worry about him hitting on me or anything like that. Chaz was pretty straight about this. (ha) He said that I wasn't his type. Thanks -- I guess. Not that I wanted to hit it with Chaz or anything, or even be admired by him. It's just that lately it seems like I am no one's type, gay or straight or slightly crooked or anything. Even here at UMD. Seriously.

You see, there are an outrageous number of hot SummerArts honeys who have caught my eye. So many. But so far, no one seems to be catching back, you know? I thought I'd be getting something going on instantly since a) we're all away from home and b) we're all looking for summer lovin'. But nothing.

Chaz tried to calm me down on the chick thing, saying in his deep, resonant baritone (sidebar -- this guy can sing!), "we are here to learn how to be artists, not hunt down sexual game." LOL He really is serious about this "artist" thing. It's funny, because I never really thought of myself as an artist. And though The Chaz had a point, I do sorta wanna get laid too. I mean, I am away at college! (kinda) Even if it is only about 10 miles from Wheaton, I might as well be on another planet. I mean, dude -- I have a dorm room! With no parents telling me what to do or where I'm going or when they'll be back or anything!!!

Well, that's not 100 percent true. There is a resident assistant, or RA, who is technically in charge. But he's a junior at UMD and very cool, saying we can do what we want as long as the lights are out and doors shut by one A.M. One A.M.?! My parents would flip...actually, they did, 'cause I told them when I called home last night from the pay phone at the student union. Get this -- Bob and Helen were complaining that I sounded tired already because I wasn't getting enough rest. They are such worriers. Which is to say, they are such parents.

Anyway, I've gotta wrap this up as we have to get to our voice class and it's on the other side of campus. (UMD is so massive -- the size of 20 Einsteins!) Later today, the faculty is gonna meet with us to talk about the show that we're gonna be putting together over the course of the next six weeks. If it's Fiddler, then I definitely have to play matchmaker for you and Chaz -- it'll be a sign! LOL Seriously, though, I can't wait to find out what we're gonna be doing...and, of course, if I can play the lead. Yeah, I know...I always play the lead at Einstein, so you're probably wondering why I'm even questioning it. But this is the big leagues, bro. Everyone here played the leads at their own schools! So scoring a big role here would actually mean something, because everyone is so talented.

OK -- I'm gonna stop being such a "drama fag" now and sign off. But one last thing. Your last entry was a little, how can I put this...bitter? And I know you're bummed about being left to your own devices this summer. But please do me one favor: Don't be such a dark cloud in the middle of July. You can actually be a nice guy when you're not being such a self-inflicted mope. And maybe you'll even meet some interesting guys in your class (other than that dumb-ass Joey, of course).

All right -- good luck with driving, and try not to hit anything. Remember, this is real life, not "GTA: Vice City." C

Copyright © 2006 by Brian Sloan



Continues...


Excerpted from Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan Copyright © 2006 by Brian Sloan. 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.

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