By Jeff Walsh
"Dear Lord, please take away these feelings. You know which ones. In Jesus' name I ask you. Thank You. Amen."
Paul writes these words on a slip of paper, folds it, and puts it into his God Box. The maple box has the Serenity Prayer carved into its top, and a place into which you slide your prayers, giving them up to the Lord.
In Alex Sanchez's new novel, "The God Box," Paul is a Christian high school senior trying to avoid confronting his sexuality. He has a long-time girlfriend, belongs to Bible Club at school, and wears a red "What Would Jesus Do?" rubber wristband at all times. When he wakes up from a sex dream, presumably about a boy, he pulls back the band and snaps it against his flesh.
When he sees Manuel for the first time in homeroom, it's no surprise that Paul is going to have a sore wrist in no time. The new kid in school, Manuel has both his ears and his left eyebrow pierced and, over lunch with Paul and his friends, casually asks if this school has a GSA. When they ask if he's gay, he just says "Yep."
This seems like one of our rarer contests, since Alex lives in Thailand, but if you want to win your very own signed copy of Getting It, the latest book by Alex Sanchez, the author of the Rainbow Boys trilogy, this is your chance.
In Getting It, Alex Sanchez delivers a poignant story about Carlos Amoroso, a 15-year-old boy who feels that life is passing him by. Unlike his friends, he's still a virgin. Even worse, he hasn't even kissed a girl. And the girl he wants to kiss most, the girl of his dreams doesn't even know he exists.
But when Carlos happens to sees Queer Eye on television, he gets an idea: if he asks Sal, the boy at school everyone says is gay, to give him a makeover, maybe the girl will finally notice him. Just as long as no one sees him talking to Sal and gets the wrong idea. Sal agrees to do it, as long as Carlos pays him and helps him start a GSA at their high school.
Sanchez really captures the awkwardness of adolescence in this light, quick read. Carlos and his friends speak with a shorthand and familiarity that pulls you right into their world and paints them all with a caring and humanity underneath all their hormonal sex talk. The story lets Carlos explore his negative and uncomfortable thoughts on homosexuality, as he slowly becomes friends with Sal.
By Jeff Walsh
It was strange to read Alex Sanchez's debut novel "Rainbow Boys" for the first time, knowing it had recently been banned from a summer reading list for its sexual content. Part of me had that at the back of my mind, wondering when it was going to get all hot and heavy… and then I hit the last page, wondering what I missed. It was a copy from the library, so maybe someone tore all the sex scenes out?
I should know by now that even implied sex between two teenaged boys is still too much for a lot of people to handle, but this is just a great book showing people in the early stages of accepting their sexuality taking their first awkward steps forward.
The three main characters are in their senior year of high school. Jason Carillo is the jock who decided to attend a gay youth group after talking to someone on a teen hotline. At the meeting, he sees two classmates (everyone's big fear when attending a local meeting for the first time), Kyle Meeks and Nelson Glassman. Jason isn't as surprised to see Nelson there, since he is called "Nelly" at school, and is flamboyant. But Kyle? That's a whole different story.
By Jeff Walsh
With the trilogy of books that began with "Rainbow Boys," Alex Sanchez created indelible characters that have helped thousands of gay young adults see fiction that reflected their lives. In his latest book "Getting It," Sanchez has fun with the idea of a straight teenager who wants to get the girl and, after seeing Queer Eye on TV, enlists the help of the gay kid in his high school to help him win her heart.
Sanchez spends most of his time writing in Thailand these days, so we did an interview over Skype recently.
Well, let's start with Thailand. That's interesting to me, because I spent six weeks there and actually wrote my novel longhand down on a beach on Koh Samui.
Oh, cool. When was that?
A little more than ...two years ago? Three? I'm just finishing it up now.