3 out of 5 stars
Thank You to Liane Shaw and Second Story Press for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book on Netgalley.
I was drawn to this book due to the colorful cover page because it shouted LGBTQ+ to me so I knew I wanted to read it. After getting a chance to read the short description about this book I knew I wanted a chance to read it. I always attempt to read all YA books that have LGBTQ+ themes so I was happy to get a chance to read this book.
The Stone Rainbow is about Jack who is a teenager living in a small town who is in the middle of coming out to those closest to him. Jack becomes the center of attention for everyone in the small town of Thomas Mills after he wanders too far into the river while not knowing how to swim. Early on in the book Jack encounters a new students,Benjamin,who just happens to be gay and develops an instant crush on him. Through the rest of the story Jack relieves moments of his life that are part of his coming out story and continues discovering who he is and who he wants to be in the eyes of others.
I was a bit hesitant to continue reading this because it was a little too cliche and coincidental for me from the start. I found it a little too much that the new guy was gay, liked Jack, and the friendship just kind of happened instantly. Because of the way that the story is told and Jack’s personality, the parts that were perfect sounded like things that would be happening only in his head but not in reality so that kind of threw me off. I kept reading though because I was invested in the characters and was hoping that Jack, Ryan, Cody, and Benjamin would develop throughout the story.
I was quite pleased with the character development that Jack goes through but I do think it happens suddenly and without cause. Like he meets Benjamin and is suddenly proud of who he is and stands up for himself which was a little off to me.
There are scenes that I want to see rather than hear about from Jack. I think that seeing Jack come out to his mom and seeing the river scene would have a greater impact on the reader rather than hearing Jack’s retelling of these events. Sometimes I would be reading and excited that we finally get emotion but then it quickly passes and I’m not sure if that’s the style or is it on purpose because of who Jack is? Is quickly passing through emotions because Jack isn’t ready to get into them or is it just coincidence that it matches his personality?
Suddenly when you think everything is going perfectly and you are pleased with the direction that Jack and Benjamin’s relationship is taking there is a twist in the story. I think that this twist is what keeps you glued to the book because now you need to know what happens to the characters. Now you are too invested in these characters to just put the book down. It is during this traumatic event that you get to witness past events in Jack’s life not just through his reenacting but as if you are there in those scenes.
I like the relationships that Jack builds with those around him and how those relationships change as he becomes secure about his identity. I feel that those relationships really mimic what being a LGBTQ+ kid can feel like especially when you are unsure about a lot of things.
I am so glad that I kept reading this book because the feelings do get deeper and you see a lot of who the other characters are. It takes a while for Jack to open up to others so please hang in there because when he does there’s some beautiful moments. I winded up liking Cody a lot more than I expected to since the beginning and it’s great to see how someone can change when surrounded by open minded people.
I recommend this to young adults who may be struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity as well as people who are trying to understand LGBTQ+ youth.
This book will be published September 17th 2019.