Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

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23 Comments on “Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez”

  1. Evan Phail says:

    Rainbow Boys was better than I expected, mostly because it had such real characters in it and they went through real tough situations. Sanchez’s choices to have situations such as safe sex, peer bullying and confused parents were very accurate. Also in the beginning, Jason thinks he couldn’t possibly be gay because he’s had sex and has his girlfriend Debra. I was also glad to see different types of parents. Ones that hated their son being gay, while others embracing it, while others learning to adjust to it and support their son.
    It was a little subtle but Nelson has an eating disorder. I first noticed it on p85 when Nelson says he’s trying to slim down and he’s concerned that he’s getting a gut. Later on we read that he does force himself to throw up when he gained eight pounds. This is something that is subtle and I liked it that way because it was almost like Nelson didn’t see anything wrong with it and wasn’t conscious of his eating disorder.
    I also liked how every chapter started with the names of Jason, Kyle, and Nelson in a sort of triangle (could have been a pink triangle or could be a love triangle) and how one of the names would be shaded darker to show that that is the character who would be the focus in the chapter.
    Sanchez was very responsible at the end of the book by having the different hotlines and organizations that kids could learn about. The book is about being safe, being accepted, and being free and the organizations and hotlines will help any teen readers find their own place.

  2. Christopher Shanley says:

    Okay I know I’m going to catch heat for this but I felt this book suffered a reverse issue of that suffered by Luna. Rainbow Boys wants so bad to be an LGBT book that it loses the spark or the heart that Luna had. For all it’s faults Luna was at least willing to experiment, Rainbow boys presents three chief characters who are so painfully stereotypical and safe it lacks interest. Even the ostensible conflict in the book seems stereotyped. It felt less organic and more like a by the numbers exercise which hit aids, parental disapproval, struggles with identity and falling in love. I have to say I started out finding Jason really ineffective- the nature of his conflict felt really stereotyped and simple but his relationship with Kyle was the only part of the book I found genuine. The subject of young love as a universal not hetero- nominative experience was to me the most productive this book ever got. And, to be fair, the pressure Nelson feels to accelerate to the level of his peers also rang true- so credit to Sanchex for that. It’s when these characters are forced to express their thoughts and feeling on their identities this book falls flat.
    Jason’s relationship with his father is one of this books weakest points- while Luna examined a parental relationship driven by fear on both sides Jason’s feels like a bad case of big bad wolf syndrome. There’s not a lot of places you can take a relationship like the one he has with his father- so as a reader I’m left feeling cheated. I should qualify myself here and say that I don’t begrudge the use of a well established narrative- I just like to see it twisted in some way. A note on time- for a book published in the new millennium this book was surprisingly Aids centric. I feel like aids is firmly an 80’s 90’s disease but what do I know? Just for once I’d really like to read a book like Gossip Girl (can’t believe I said that) whose characters happen to be gay. It would be nice to have the trials and tribulations of normal relationships rather than the “horrors” of being gay for once.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Shanita McLeod

    Rainbow Boys is another book that I think should be in the bookshelves of high schools all over the world to help spread awareness about being a part of the LGBTQ community. Sanchez mentions practicing safe sex, how being gay can affect parents, etc, which is a great way to educate people who are not, people who are and allies of the gay community.

    On another note, I disagree with Christopher because at some point in time I think that Sanchez did the right thing by forcing the characters to express themselves because people who are gay may need a space to tell their stories an voice their frustrations because there are always people that bully them without knowing what they have went through. Additionally, it may also assist others who do not feel comfortable coming out and may have the same issues that Luna had until they come to a point where they cannot hold it in anymore, which could have negative after affects. I feel like it is necessary to keep discussing the “horrors” of being gay because there have been so many suicides because of bullying and things of that nature. Exposing future generations to the LGBTQ and their struggles will hopefully help people of that community and their allies continue the movement and prevent people from feeling alone.

    Sanchez does a great job of keeping the readers engaged including myself. I was able to better understand how a relationship between the say sex works and how LOVE is LOVE and no one can change how to people feel about one another. He gave us three characters and flushed the out above and beyond. I love how he provided a listing of services at the end.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed this book a lot because it was three stories in one. It captured how three boys deal with their sexuality with a range of emotions. Jason, Kyle, and Nelson, are three very different boys with very different experiences. I think that this accurately captures teen angst and the discovery of one’s sexuality because no one has the exact same experiences.
    Jason obviously represents the jock clique in high school who feels as though he can’t be myself because of his jock image. He has a girlfriend to mask his homosexuality which was a very good play on Sanchez’s part. The debate about Debra showed Jason’s inner conversation about his sexuality. Jason has to deal with peer pressure at school as well as a very conservative viewed and distructive home life. He had been beaten down while straight, so coming out with his sexuality would only further his pain. Yet, his true self is in pain because he cannot let his true colors shine.
    Then there is Kyle is the shy, and quiet type in school. While he accepts that he is gay, he doesn’t parade around letting people know about it. Eventually he is able to admit his sexuality to his parents who still love him no matter what. This is a big comparison to Jason’s parents who don’t accept him. He has this boy meets boy relationship with Jason when he tutors him in math. I think that this part could be substituted with any type of sexuality, gay, straight, bi, lesbian, transgendered… this shows that even in high school you like who you like no matter the gender. It just happens.
    Lets not forget Nelson, who could forget him! He represents the loud and proud, stereotypical gay teen. He is not afraid to dye his hair or let people know he is gay. Between the three boys jealous ruptures like it would with girls! The key part of Nelson’s life is his relationship with STD’s and HIV. He is the wild child who had a fling with Brick who might have and STD then falls in love with Jeremy who is HIV positive. Having Nelson deal with both of the issues what a clever way to discuss STD’s and HIV. I loved that Jeremy was involved in the story but HIV was not portrayed as a scary thing. Nelson still fell in love with Jeremy regardless of HIV.
    Having the novel split up into three different plots showed the different stages of the coming out process which is essential to LGBTQ literature. This novel was not over bearing or unrelatable from a straight audience perspective. Even if given to a very conservative audience this book could strike up conversation and hopefully open sheltered minds. This type of a book is successful if it makes one person say “oh I never thought of that” or “thats kind of like what I’m going through”.

  5. Meghan Warager says:

    I thought the layout of Rainbow Boys was very interesting, and I could appreciate the rhetorical choices Sanchez made by telling the story from three different boys points of view. I think this allowed the reader to see the wide variety of issues and choices young adults deal with, especially when dealing with sexuality. You had the perspective from Nelson who was sure about his sexuality, but dealing with feelings towards a boy who he once saw as just a friend. You have the perspective from Jason who is a stereotypical jock trying to figure out his sexuality while trying to live up to his image. And then Kyle who is almost in between the two other main characters, who is somewhat sure of his sexuality. However, it was sometimes confusing trying to tell which chapter was told from which perspective, since it was told in the third person. I would have preferred it being told from the first person perspective.

    The families all played an important role in this story, as many of the other young adult literature books we have read. Especially in the books that we have read dealing with sexuality, the families seem to play very important roles in shaping the main characters. Many times the father-son relationships show what fathers would typically expect from their boys, which causes tension and obstacles for the main characters to over come.

    I also think the book dealt with lots of other issues, besides being gay, that made it relatable to a wide audience. The fact that Jason’s dad was an alcoholic, troubled relationships with parents, trying to find ones identity, friendship, sports etc. I think that is important because not every young adolescent reader is going to relate to being queer but most can relate to these issues. And I do think the ability for the reader to relate to the text is important.

  6. Shane Samuel says:

    I found this book to be pretty interesting, I would not call it my favorite read but I would not say that it is a horrible book. When I first opened the book and saw the names of 3 different boy I knew it would be about them, but I did not expect the story to be told from different view point. With that being said, I feel Sanchez did a good job at doing that.

    However, as Chris mentioned in his post there were a lot of stereotypes about the gay culture (but stereotypes are found in EVERY book that we read, but I digress).For example, all of the men in the novel are these macho overbearing dads who fail to understand their son’s awkwardness, while the mothers are all so accepting and can “connect” more with them. This feeds into the stereotype that gay boys are more feminine, etc.

    While I can go on for days about the various stereotypes in this book I feel that I should turn my attention to the writing. The writing was good, but it did not have the spark as many of the other books we read had. However, I did like the way the author transitioned between each perspective, it was smooth and understandable. In short, Rainbow Boys was an interesting book and while it think it would make a pretty cool “MTV movie” it did not really do anything to make me go omg this book is amazing.

  7. sbuckleit says:

    This was one of the easier books for me to read; I think mainly because of the frequent shifts in perspective. If I didn’t like what was going on with one of the characters I still had something to look forward to in later chapters.
    Including different perspectives was a rhetorically brilliant move on Sanchez’s part; the various view points allowed for him to explore an array of issues that adolescents (both gay and not) may face without making the plot too complicated, as well as keeping the reader gripped in the storyline. The writing was also fairly simple, so the issues of family, sexual orientation, eating disorders, safe sex, self esteem and so on that Sanchez brings up in his book are all displayed clearly. That being said, there certainly wasn’t any fancy writing going on; I wouldn’t really call this book literature. It actually reminded me of the lifetime videos we watched in health class about eating disorders and the like, but that may have been because of the cover.
    I also thought that the title could’ve been better. I think that the link between rainbows and homosexuality is brought up a lot in bullying; for example, kids will say things like “I bet Billy’s favorite color is the rainbow!” and so I associate phrases like that with bullying. It also makes the book sound cheap, almost like “Gossip Girl” or “Pretty Little Liars” and I feel like a different title could give it a much more appealing sound. Especially because of the stigma around being gay in today’s society, boys are going to be much less likely to pick the novel up. If it had a less obvious cover (one that a boy wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen carrying around) and subtle title, a wider range of kids could be lured into reading it. But of course, that’s just my opinion.

  8. Stephanie Haddad says:

    I liked Rainbow Boys. At first, I didn’t like the third person narrative too much, but then this narration grew on me because it really worked well for this story—having the opportunity to learn a lot about Jason, Kyle, and Nelson was important to understand the growth of each of these characters. This is such a difficult topic to discuss in a novel and I think Sanchez did a pretty good job of digging into the minds of these characters. Sanchez made some good rhetorical choices— I really liked the way he titled each chapter the same exact way with all three of the boys names shaped triangularly with the exception of a different name bolded in each chapter to refer to which character the audience was reading about next. I can’t say I really liked the cover of this book; however, I again kept referring to it when I would read about the details of Jason, Kyle, and Nelson’s appearance. What I noticed was that the characters on the cover corresponded to the exact same order the names were titled in each chapter. I mean if I observed correctly, I think I’ve matched up each character the right way and I thought that was pretty cool! It looks like Jason is hiding behind Kyle to the left and Nelson to the right. From my interpretation, both Nelson and Kyle are out of the closet and already embracing it in school meanwhile Jason is behind them still confused.

    The characters were so genuine and real—I mean confusion, battle for acceptance, family, eating disorders, love… As I read every word, I could just picture the scene. Parents played such an important role in this book—It was interesting to see how different Jason, Kyle, and Nelson’s parents reacted to their son’s sexuality. The author’s inclusion of “for more information about…” at the end of the book was important—this book could really help any struggling gay or bisexual teens to learn about different resources available to them in their struggle to understand their sexuality.

  9. kbronner says:

    I have to agree with a lot of what Chris said about the book—it was not nearly as good or “real” as Luna, and it did play into many stereotypes about gay teens. However, even though all of this is true, I still think that Rainbow Boys is an important piece of YA literature. Although it plays into the stereotypes of the jock, the quiet guy, and the oddball, Rainbow Boys has a character that everyone can relate to, at least a little bit. This isn’t to say that people fit into one of those three categories—I simply mean that each reader can probably find a similar trait with one of the characters. The novel also extends beyond issues of sexual orientation to other angsty issues that most teen readers can relate to.

    To me, Sanchez’s rhetorical choice to write the book from three different perspectives was very effective. I felt that this made the book much stronger as the reader was allowed to see each characters perspective. It was great to see how the stories intertwined into one story through the three different perspectives. I felt that this gave the reader insight beyond the surface and beyond the viewpoint and ideas of just one narrator. I feel that Sanchez did this as an attempt to develop each character completely and also to illustrate to the audience, straight or gay, that anyone can deal with these issues and keep them suppressed. The three main characters even doubt from time to time the sexual identities of the others—not only are they confused about themselves but they are also confused about others. Also, Evan’s comment about the triangle of the names fits in perfectly rhetorically with the three different perspectives as well as with the general theme of the book.

  10. Evan Phail says:

    Just one thing, You said Nelson “represents the loud and proud, stereotypical gay teen” however I think this book shows that there should be no stereotypical gay teen because being gay can mean different things as each of the characters showed.

    Also I thought Nelson was the strongest character in the novel.

    (also I’m not sure who posted above because it’s anonymous)

  11. Evan Phail says:

    Oh Sarah I completely agree! The title definitely turned me off coming into this book, I probably wouldn’t have read this on my own. Same with the cover, I was expecting it to be a “cheap” series book. However I liked the back of the book that gave the overview of each character at the top. It helped me associate who was on the cover from the very beginning and I liked who they chose to represent each character. What did y’all think about the back of the book?

  12. Katie McLean says:

    Throughout reading the entire book I was so confused about what my blog would say. I’m going to take myself out of the equation, and not put my like/dislike at the top of my entry. I keep having the same amounts of likes and dislikes in these book, so it’s practically irrelevant. To get started, I thought that Nelson was SO different from Kyle and Jason. He was having problems so far from what they were experiencing. He was bulimic; he was trying to experience sexuality through the internet– a more secretive route, yet his sexuality seemed to be written all over him at school. He was struggling with those first moments: how to say no and speak up. He was living with a fear of being HIV positive. He was running away from school. That was so so heavy compared to Kyle and Jasons’ relationship. The book could have been about Nelson himself. I don’t honestly think that his jealousy for Kyle and Jason mattered that much. If it was about Nelson, it could have been a strong read. My thoughts are so scattered here after this– why did Sanchez choose an athelete to be gay? Was he trying to say that anyone could struggle with sexual orientation? Was that necessary? Parents’ roles were crucial in this YA text, unlike many other texts. It could not be a coming out story without that. I liked also that Debra was include for Jason’s coming out twist. I just reallllyy think the book could have been 100 times more powerful if it only centered around Nelson. So I guess that’s my main question for you all– do you think we needed Kyle and Jason? Without a doubt, the book would serve a completely different audience if it was just Nelson. It would cut off a large crowd. It would make it less of a coming out story, and more of an identity crisis. But I at least thought he was the most interesting. I’m jet lagged and exhausted and there is nooo enter key on this computer, so excuse my one paragraph! But I thought the book was very thought provoking. The cover didn’t work for me, I like something more symbolic than a photograph. Also a guy that wanted to read this book for the sake of understanding I don’t think could secretly read it and get something out of it. If it needed to be a secret, which I’m assuming it would be. OKkkkk Hej Hej from Denmark!

  13. Celeste Smith says:

    I agree Meghan- I liked that we got three perspectives, but keeping their stories straight was difficult, made especially so by the third person perspective. I wondered why Sanchez made that choice- in so many of the books we have read, we’ve enjoyed the first person narrative, as it often helps us to relate or connect with the character. I think we could have gained greater insight into their thoughts and true feelings had it been in first person.

  14. Daphney Etienne says:

    Daphney Etienne

    I liked Rainbow Boys because I’ve never really read adolescent books with male main characters, and even if I did they would automatically be action filled books. Because of this, I find myself being wowed by Rainbow Boys. It’s refreshing. The love or lust stories are that of a lot of teenagers and I feel like it was refreshing that it was between boys.

    Rhetorically it was fantastic. I’ve mentioned in class that one of my favorite series is a set of books that take place in the same length of time, and each book in the series is based on the point of view of a specific character. I often feel like I want more when I read a book, and having these different point of views in Rainbow Boys was perfect.

    The one thing I didn’t like, and I realize that I don’t like it of most YA novels is the one dimensions of characters when in a group of friends. Why must there be a jock, a quiet one, an outgoing one? Why can’t it be that the jock is also quiet too? I get that it is done to make characters more relatable, but it’s too overdone.

    One last thing to note is the huge role that family plays in this novel. Family are always present in the other novels, but with this one, it is actually explored. So we really get to see the interactions and relationships between the boys and their parents.

    The title Rainbow Boys almost ruined it for me by the way. WHY!!!???

  15. Caley says:

    Structurally I thought that this book was really creative. I have read books told from multiple points of view before but they have been larger sections. A character would tell the first half, and then it would switch off for the other person to finish it up. Rainbow Boys, however, had constant shifting that I though was very good for showing what every character is thinking at every point of the book. The shifts in cognition enable the author to tell three different stories, with different perspectives on being gay, all at varying stages in the coming out process. Also I liked how the name of the character narrating was bolded at the bottom of the page so it was very clear who the narrator was when.
    I agree with some previous posts that this book did not seem particularly “real.” It is hard to put my finger on why but there was a distinct gossip girl type fantasy element to the book. By that I mean the characters, setting, plot seems well designed but something about it is just not quite believable.
    Alright the cover was a little much for me. It looked like a 98 degrees album cover. I know that the cover is trying to attract a gay/questioning adolescent audience but something a little more imaginative would be nice. I’m not saying we should “Stargirl” it, but I think it could be improved from two guys smirking while one looks off to the side like he has a secret…come on, not buying it.

  16. Celeste Smith says:

    I agree with the general consensus that Sanchez raised and addressed some important issues and did so in a realistic way. However, I couldn’t ignore the writing style- I just didn’t enjoy it, and as Sarah aptly put, it wasn’t really literature. The writing was simple and plain, with nothing really special about it. I did enjoy the chapter format, which reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s work- many stories told from different view points, but all the stories are inter-weaved- resulting in differing viewpoints which helps to approach the topic from many angles. The simplicity of the writing made me wonder about the intended audience though- perhaps Sanchez meant it for younger readers than the audience we’re used to for our other books. I don’t think there was anything particularly harmful in this book to prevent it from being appropriate for younger readers. I see it more as a simply written book that could educate teens about homosexuality and answer some questions/disproves stereotypes. Although it may have some more mature aspects, I don’t think it’s anything that’s too extreme for younger readers and that the overall message of understanding is more prominent.
    On a different note, I also liked the cover. I think because at times keeping all three stories (and especially whose parents were whose- for some reason) was difficult, it helped me to associate a name with a face on the cover. Their facial expressions and physical body positions perfectly matched the boys’ demeanor in the book. Nelson and Kyle were more confident and comfortable, while Jason is in the background, trying to figure out if he belongs in the front or not. Although at times I was frustrated by the simplicity of the text and at times the aspects that seemed unrealistic (how many teenage boys do you know make dinner for themselves, especially something like stir fry, do all the dishes, clean the house, etc.) I think the cover helped convey the feeling I had the rest of the time- that these boys are real and that this happens everyday.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I guess I am struggling to understand this whole gay stereotype thing…I never got a huge vibe of it from reading the book. I thought that having three different boys showed a range of possibilities of how a gay teen may or may not act. I think that the “stereotypes” in this story are really just possible plots that these characters take as chosen by the author. My brother acted a lot like Jason growing up…then Kyle in his later teens…and now is closer to Nelson…without the radical hair dying and stuff. My brother is happily in a relationship with another guy, who I love dearly. I see a lot of how my brother grew up as shown by the three teen boys. I don’t see the stereotypes, I see the stages of the coming out process for my brother…but thats just my opinion. I wouldn’t say my brother is the stereotypical gay male…other that maybe he has a great fashion sense and is dating…another dude. And aren’t stereotypes overall somewhat based in truth…yes they are extremes…but those stereotypes came from somewhere.

    I disagree with this book being overly full with stereotypes. Its about gay teenage boys…which society has come up with stereotypes overall…I don’t know, I’m rabbling.

    Is it break yet?

  18. Katie McLean says:

    I never thought of those triangles as a love triangle– how clever!

  19. Katie McLean says:

    I would have really liked if the story was zoomed into one character. I thought it was cool that we could see three different families, but I think the text would be more powerful if Sanchez kept to one perspective with maybe some side stories that shaped the book as a whole.

  20. Katie McLean says:

    The cover is soo helpful, I kind of said this in mine at the end– if you were really going through something and wanted to read a fictional story that you could relate to yourown situation, to get insight on what to do and how it might be hard, how could you possibly carry this book around and not have everyone know what you’re reading up on?

  21. Katie McLean says:

    Hah, think I meant unhelpful..

  22. Katie McLean says:

    That’s really interesting that you read about stages of coming out, opposed to stereotypes. And now that I think of it that way, it makes complete sense to me, too. Maybe we are the ones stereotyping in the first place. I think that’s a really good way to put it though– everyone was inching towards something different in the process of figuring themselves out, and their sexual orientation. Jason was at the beginning, while Nelson had his parents involved, and Kyle was just at the cusp of really coming to terms with his sexuality. I do think that’s why Sanchez’s use of three different characters was effective.

  23. carlagaynor2 says:

    It could benefit some high schools to teach Rainbow Boys in the classrooms. I went to an extremely accepting high school, to the point that homophobia seemed something of the past for me growing up. It was just so accepted and normal all throughout school. I realize now this is most definitely not the case everywhere. I believe that Rainbow Boys approaches the subject of homosexuality very well, and it targeted for a high school aged audience. I think it could help promote awareness, of nothing else, in schools across the country. I feel that Sanchez touched on important subjects such as safe sex, alcohol use, and even eating disorders. He also gave three very different scenarios, and three different family situations.

    On another note, I think that the book should have been written in the first person perspective from each character. I felt distanced from the characters because of the third person perspective. Also I feel that it would give the adolescent reading the book more insight into the characters mind, and might make the situations seem more real. From the perspective it is written in now, it feels as of the reader is definitely on the outside of the story.