Boy Red is a story about identity, about where you come from and where you belong.
The day after his sixteenth birthday, Red discovers that the man he calls ‘Dad’ is not his biological father. Will Red be able to track down the anonymous sperm donor who gave him life? What will he learn about himself along the way? And just what else are his parents hiding?
Should family be defined by who shares your DNA?
Imagine a room filled with “tourists dripping with backpacks.” As soon as I read that phrase in the first scene I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. The author doles out her creative use of language when the reader leasts expects it, and I was nearly as interested in seeing what metaphor she uses next as I was in following Red’s journey to its completion.
I would have preferred to see more character development with the man who Red has always known as his father. The other members of the family are given more time to express their personalities, but Red’s father remains a fairly mysterious individual. Eventually some of my questions about him were answered, but it would have been nice to learn more about why he made certain choices. Had I gotten to know him better this book would have earned a much higher rating.
Sometimes parenthood is a sensitive topic, but Red never shies away from asking tough questions about what it means to be a father and who should and should not claim that title. While I had ethical concerns about the manner in which his parents handled the topic of his conception, the author clearly spent a lot of time fleshing out the arguments on both sides of this family disagreement. Some of the points that are made may be controversial, but in no way is either side demonized.
The age recommendation for this piece is somewhat flexible. While the plot does contain mature themes and sexual references, the plot brings up issues that are incredibly common for people who are not biologically related to one or both of their parents. It broaches them in such a sympathetic manner that I am comfortable recommending Red’s tale to emotionally mature students a year or two younger than 16. Due to numerous references to sex I would not suggest this story to anyone under 14, however.
Boy Red was my first introduction to Ms. Everington’s work. If this is any indication of her storytelling abilities I am really looking forward to reading more from her and would encourage any fans of young adult literature to do the same. This novel is as appealing to adult readers as it is for the age group for which it was originally written.