Eagle Peak by Elizabeth Fontaine
Publisher: Prizm Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe
Eagle Peak, population 596, has two bars, five churches, and a vibe (or lack thereof) that couldn’t be more different than Sean’s native Minneapolis. Moving to rural small town Minnesota, Sean must leave his life of acting classes, going to all-ages shows, and hanging out with friends, to enter into a world of pep rallies, pick-up trucks and country pop.
Sean’s inclination for heavy eyeliner, black attire, and surly attitude make him an easy target of suspicion, intrigue, and prejudice in the small town of Eagle Peak. But despite Sean’s growing sense of dread and depression, small town Minnesota also offers a lot of firsts: he becomes the love interest of three classmates of which one is a closeted gay boy afraid of his own sexuality, he is surprised to discover and chant with a Buddhist family in town, and he gets in the middle of an abusive father and his town jock son. Sean’s old life of theater, live music, and diverse friends collides with his new life in Eagle Peak, and Sean is left confused about what he thought he knew about small towns, the world he left behind, and himself.
Sean has a definite opinion about what he thinks it will be like to live in the middle of nowhere, but only time will tell if his first impressions of his new home are correct.
Excellent character development made it impossible for me to stop reading. Sean is a well-developed protagonist whose personal strengths and weaknesses reveal themselves almost immediately. What makes Eagle Peak such a great tale, though, is how this development spreads to the secondary characters as well. The author acknowledges certain stereotypes only to turn them upside down just when this reader thought she had everything figured out.
All of the subplots are handled with sensitivity and humor. Ms. Fontaine tackles a lot of tough subjects during the course of Sean’s adjustment to Eagle Peak, but she weaves everything together so deftly that all of the points of conflict feel like natural extensions of the main storyline. My sole criticism of this story involves the way one of the subplots is resolved. Certain parts of it felt a little rushed due to the nature of the problem and how much it affected the character who was figuring it out earlier on in the narrative. This is a minor criticism of an otherwise well put-together plot, though.
It’s difficult to explain what it feels like to live in a small town if you stand out from the crowd in some way, but Ms. Fontaine accurately captures the positives and negatives of belonging to a minority group while living in a rural setting. This is the kind of book I’d heartily recommend to anyone who is curious about this topic.
Eagle Peak is a must-read for anyone who has ever felt out of place. It captures the maelstrom of emotions that accompanies this experience well and is something I will be rereading again soon.