Title: Sand-Man’s Family (Wild & Precious #3)
Author Name & Publisher: CJane Elliot (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: May 4, 2016 — 137 pages
When Sandy Nixon’s conservative Catholic parents discover he’s had sex before marriage, they are furious. But when he blurts out he’s bisexual, they go ballistic. After they threaten him with conversion therapy, Sandy does what many queer kids long to do—leaves his homophobic parents in the dust. He moves in with his Uncle Phineas and Phineas’s partner Cody in Portland, Oregon, and is finally safe to be himself. Sandy misses his siblings, though, and decides to visit his former home in Rockford for Thanksgiving. On the train, he runs into Jade Byrne.
As the only out gay kid in their Catholic high school, Jade has stared down homophobes while being fabulous in the school musicals. He’s crushed on Sandy for years. But he’s made sure never to show it, even after they had a onetime hookup, because Sandy’s the good Catholic kid, the altar boy, and the apparently straight athlete—all the things Jade isn’t. Traveling back to Rockford together sees the start of a month of adventures, a blossoming attraction, and a chance for Sandy to learn what it means to have a family that hurts and to choose a family that heals.
While Sandy’s journey towards autonomy is alternately heartbreaking and inspiring, I couldn’t help but feel that the actual plot becomes complicated, exaggerated and implausible in places. Sandy’s parents remain stock baddies until the end. Their priest makes a predictably evil cameo and Phineas and Cody are almost impossibly perfect surrogate parents. Add in a bizarre subplot about a homeless drug dealing boyfriend and a predictably awful holiday family reunion for a complicated plot with one dimensional supporting characters.
While this refrains from the preachy condescension of older style young adult books, it lacks the emotional depth and romantic intensity of some of my recent favourite young adult stories. Sandy’s relationships with Jade, Phineas and Cody are sweet, I never fully engaged with this story.~Sarah
After reading (and loving) the first two parts of this series, I was a bit disappointed with this one. The writing style is good, and the actual plot is decent. It’s not a true romance, which really appeals to me. In fact, I was sure there wasn’t going to be a love story at all, which would have been fine–Sandy’s young and doesn’t need a happily ever after just yet.
The biggest obstacle for me was that I hated Jade. Seriously hated him. I wanted to like him, and I did at first. But as the story went on, I saw him as a self-centered, biphobic jerk who was emotionally manipulating Sandy. His constant drama over believing Sandy would leave for an “easier” relationship was so upsetting, particularly when it was Sandy who ended up apologizing to him. By the end, I wanted him to go away and for Sandy to make up with Dare, who I did really like and who treated Sandy well despite his problems. I honestly could not get past this, and I found myself hoping that off-page, Sandy wises up and dumps Jade. I personally would not tolerate a partner who treated me that way.
What I did still love were the relationships between Sandy and his brother and between Sandy and Phineas and Cody. I could read about those forever. I felt that the family dynamics were handled really well, and I’d have liked to see more of that.
Overall, not my favorite, but it won’t stop me from reading more in the future.
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of gay equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.