Bryan Dennison is gay, but rather than be true to himself and acknowledge his own sexuality, he bullies and torments Scott Beckett. Scott is openly gay and responds favorably to Bryan’s advances, but Bryan insists on keeping their relationship behind closed doors. The resulting fall out places Scott in real physical danger from the popular jock crowd that Bryan calls friends, even though they know next to nothing about the real him.
Bryan awakens one morning with memory loss and a strange unexplained compulsion to “do good”; a sharp contrast to his previous behavior as star center on the basketball team. The red shirt reference in the title of this novella is truly a simple bed sheet, but to Bryan it is a cape offering him feelings of super power and strength that he often craves as he pursues a more honest approach to life. Bryan finds himself wanting to don the red sheet and commit heroic acts like saving kittens, escorting the elderly across the street, and caring for the environment. Challenges arise when Bryan attempts to use his new honest and open approach to daily living to repair the damage his untoward actions have caused his family members and especially his love interest, Scott. Hindered by an inability to recover specific memories of his relationship with Scott, Bryan struggles to understand who he was, is, and desires to become.
The Red Sheet is different from almost any book I’ve ever read. The novel is geared towards young adults interested in reading about homosexual discovery and romance. The story also flirts with supernatural/spiritual elements. There are multiple hints of a higher power playing a vital role, but no commitment by the author for God’s specific role to Bryan’s new mindset.
Kerick creates characters that are believable and filled with earthly follies making them likeable and endearing. There are portions of the novel where the foul language is profuse and potentially off putting, particularly at the beginning. The result is verse that sometimes feels choppy and forced. Once the novel gains momentum, the word usage and cadence begins to feel more comfortable and more in line with how I imagine a teenage boys’ natural prose/thoughts.
In my humble, but honest opinion, the symbolism of the red sheet at times seems forced and contrived. The memory loss could perhaps have been better conveyed as a post traumatic stress disorder or secondary to a physical trauma. These personal preferences regarding storyline; however, certainly didn’t keep me from turning the pages or quickly finishing the book. Overall, this was a very enjoyable, unique read!
Reasons to Read: The Red Sheet is a brave story of a homosexual teenager who must overcome his own self loathing. There are not many stories like this out there and this novel may truly bring comfort to young adults struggling with their own sexuality. Parents of homosexual teenagers may also benefit from reading a story that openly exposes some of the cruel and unfortunate ways bullying can manifest toward high schoolers who are not considered popular or main stream. This has the potential to be a good choice for parent/teenager book clubs that wish to discuss homosexuality and bullying.
Reasons to Pass: This book is about homosexual teenagers and bullying. If those topics make you uncomfortable then you should probably read this book; however, you have been given fair warning if you aren’t ready to explore these subject matters. If spirituality makes you uncomfortable please note that the main character’s sudden change of heart, coupled with memory loss is potentially due to divine intervention.
Category: Young Adult
Suggested Rating: PG-13 There is male/male romantic and physical relations, and there is one scene depicting non-graphic attempted non-consensual sexual activity.
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About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
My themes I always write about:
Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes- only love can save them