Author: Marie Sexton
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Contemporary/Coming of Age
Narrator: John Solo
It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall – not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.
Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.
Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.
Without a doubt, Trailer Trash is one of the best MM coming of age novels I’ve read/listened to over the past few years. I believe we could crown Marie Sexton the “coming of age Queen,” in that I seem to recall other great novels she wrote in this subgenre. That is the long way to saying I enjoyed this well-written, compelling tale. I’ll add that it stepped up to loving it after my second listen. I found myself smiling, angered by the abject poverty and small-town ignorance/stupidity, and getting a little verklempt in several scenes. Another plus: Trailer Trash is a virtually angst-free novel!
Marie Sexton led me down memory lane with her accurate depiction of two eighteen-year-old men’s struggles in coming to terms with their sexual identity. Mind you, the story is set in small-town Wyoming in 1986. In case you weren’t born yet, or were too young to understand, 1980 through 1988 was an era, which I vividly recall, in which AIDS became an epidemic that quickly went endemic – thanks to the Reagan Administration’s lack of concern about a few hundred cases of a pneumonia/flu-like disease that turned deadly. Reagan and his far-right cohorts considered this new ailment called AIDS a singular problem of those godless sodomites, labelling it as, “The Gay Plague.” (Gee whiz, Wally, ain’t it amazin’ how many brainiacs get elected into public office? As another sidebar, we’ve hit the zenith on that phenomenon.) Reagan and congress didn’t provide sufficient funding for AIDS research UNTIL “The Gay Plague” moved into the heterosexual community. It was bound to happen, but the aforementioned elected officials were too ignorant to realize there were bisexuals, and married men waaay in the closet. It was a shameful era. Anyway, I digress.
The novel’s pacing struck me as just right, the dialogue throughout was pitch perfect, and the characters were highly developed – I enjoyed, above all, MCs Nathan and Cody. Another plus: Marie Sexton provides realistic portrayals of teenagers’ cliques, and high schools’ bottomless pits of bias, hatred and bullying.
John Solo’s voice acting and oral interpretation skills were definitely top shelf. He has a pleasant voice that, on a dime, turns either gleeful, or sad, or angry, or menacing without sounding affected.
Without hesitation, I highly recommend Trailer Trash. Never mind that the title initially made me pause before clicking the “add to cart” button. (Pay no attention to that man behind the Audible screen!) In fact, the title fits perfectly. Great work, Marie Sexton!