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Getting It, by Alex Sanchez

11 Apr

2006, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-4169-0898-2

Plot Summary: Fifteen-year old Carlos is a virgin, and it is driving him crazy. All of his friends have had sex at least once, and all he can do is moon over Roxy, the most gorgeous girl in school. He has no idea how to make himself more attractive to the opposite sex, but when he catches an episode of the television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where a group of gay men give a straight man a complete makeover, he’s got an idea. He approaches Sal, a gay classmate, with his Queer Eye idea, and Sal agrees – provided Carlos helps Sal get a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) started at their school. Carlos is uneasy about it, but agrees.

As Carlos spends more time with Sal, his horizons broaden, and he realizes that his friends’ homophobia is out of line. When the school gives pushback against the GSA, Sal expects Carlos to step up and keep his promise – on the same day that Roxy invites Carlos over for a “hookup”. Carlos learns that doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing.

Critical Evaluation: Alex Sanchez writes teen romance, primarily focusing on gay teens and their journeys toward self-acceptance. With Getting It, Sanchez gives readers a straight protagonist on his own journey. Starting out as part of a group of loud, hormonally amped-up teenage boys, Sanchez quickly establishes Carlos as a sensitive, different part of the group. He also gives Carlos problems that readers can relate to: his divorced parents do not have an amicable relationship; his father’s new wife and baby take precedence; and his mother’s relationship with her boyfriend can be uncomfortable at times. When Carlos is able to overcome his own prejudices to reach out and befriend a gay teen, it sends a message to readers of both genders. Gay teens will identify with or be inspired by Sal, who comes from a supportive family and knows who he is: out, proud, and interested in helping his community. He sees in Carlos a chance to build bridges between the gay and straight communities at school, and in doing so, teaches Carlos that his own feelings of self-worth are important.

Reviews: School Library Journal: “The message of tolerance is strong, but it is dramatized with humor and truth.”

Booklist: “This sweet, simple examination of homophobia and friendship is a welcome addition to the genre.”

Awards: Myers Outstanding Book Award Winner (2007); 9th International Latino Book Awards 2nd place Best Young Adult Fiction – English; New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age” (2007)

Reader’s Annotation: When Sal takes on the task of making Carlos over to make him more attractive to girls, Carlos learns so much more than how to match clothes and keep his room clean.

Author Information: Teen author Alex Sanchez is a passionate GLBT advocate who tours the country speaking to librarians and students about the importance of tolerance and Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. His website provides resources for gay youth on coming out and getting help; links to information about being gay and spiritual; and links about banned books and censorship. He also provides his bio, information on his books, and contact information for any educators interested in speaking with him or inviting him to speak.

Genre: Sexuality and gender identity. Subgenres: GLBT fiction, teen romance, friendship, multicultural

Booktalking Ideas: Do you think it is possible – or realistic – for a gay teen and a straight teen to become friends? Would you have kept your friendship with Sal a secret if you were in Carlos’ place?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 14+

Challenge Issues/Defense: Homosexuality, mild sexuality. Defense: There are gay teens out there. reading books like this build a bridge between gay and straight teens, and start discussions on tolerance, understanding, and friendship. Regarding the sexuality between Carlos and Roxy, it is not graphic; it is presented as neither right nor wrong, just something that happens with teens. It is not glorified.

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?

I read this title years ago, along with several of Mr. Sanchez’ other books, and enjoyed them. He is a very readable author with a positive message for gay and straight teens alike. I wanted to revisit it.

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