Thursday, August 02, 2012

Money Boy

Money Boy Paul Yee

Ray Liu is having a hard time at home, living under the harsh thumb of his very demanding father. He struggles in school and with his English. Things are wrse because his step-brother easily meets the demands and expectations. Ray's only refuge is his online video games. When his father discovers Ray's been visiting websites for gay teens, he finds himself locked out of the house with his clothes and belongings all over the lawn. Ray ends up in downtown Toronto. He spends his days exploring the gay district, but his nights are a struggle finding someplace to sleep--sometimes a hostel, sometimes a shelter, sometimes the streets. After his wallet is stolen, he not only loses access to his bank account, but with no ID and limited English, he can't find work. He ends up on Boy Street, where the male prostitutes are.

I have very mixed feelings on this book. I picked it up because it was a Stonewall Honor book. On one hand, it's a wonderful, interesting, and very effective blending of an immigration story, a coming out story, and a blended and broken family story. Ray isn't your stereotypical gay kid, nor your stereotypical immigrant kid, nor your stereotypical gamer kid. He's just a normal guy, with a good group of friends, struggling with school and his father. His orientation is a complete shock to his friends and family. I really, really liked him as a character (even when his decisions frustrated me to no end.)

It's a short book and a quick read, and that's where my misgivings come in. THe entire action only takes about a week. Despite an early mugging, life on the streets is hard, but not too bad. Most of the drama is because Ray's led a very privileged life and has a hard time "slumming it." When he gets cash, he blows through it rather quickly. He finds a good community of gay Asians in a sushi restaurant and even when he's taken advantage of by a pimp, the action's a bit glossed. The ending is very swift and overly tidy, to the point where it's completely unbelievable. Had it been a bit longer, it could have been more fleshed out. As it stands now, it has a lot going for it, but falls apart a bit at the end.

Book Provided by... my local library

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