The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick
About the book:
One October morning, high school junior Bryan Dennison wakes up a different person—helpful, generous, and chivalrous—a person whose new admirable qualities he doesn’t recognize. Stranger still is the urge to tie a red sheet around his neck like a cape.
Bryan soon realizes this compulsion to wear a red cape is accompanied by more unusual behavior. He can’t hold back from retrieving kittens from tall trees, helping little old ladies cross busy streets, and defending innocence anywhere he finds it.
Shockingly, at school, he realizes he used to be a bully. He’s attracted to the former victim of his bullying, Scott Beckett, though he has no memory of Scott from before “the change.” Where he’d been lazy in academics, overly aggressive in sports, and socially insecure, he’s a new person. And although he can recall behaving egotistically, he cannot remember his motivations.
Everyone, from his mother to his teachers to his “superjock” former pals, is shocked by his dramatic transformation. However, Scott Beckett is not impressed by Bryan’s newfound virtue. And convincing Scott he’s genuinely changed and improved, hopefully gaining Scott’s trust and maybe even his love, becomes Bryan’s obsession.
This book brings to light so many issues gay teens face, out or not. Bryan is a victim of homophobia, as well as a victimizer. At the beginning he “awakes” with an overpowering urge to be a hero–to save any and all brings who need help.
This new attitude is more than exceptional. His mother is startled as much as Bryan. See, he’d been both a Superjock, and a Superjerk. His story will talk to you. Really. As Bryan endeavors to figure out what provoked his complete mental flip-out, he’s constantly addressing the audience in “Plain Teen Speak” which–my teen son tells me–is ‘foul-mouthed and direct’. So, expect cursing. Also, expect to move past it quickly. Bryan’s an engaging narrator–for all that he doesn’t know WTF is happening in his brain.
And that becomes readily apparent when he encounters Scott at school. Scott is strangely enticing. Is Bryan gay? He doesn’t know–and that’s troubling to him. Especially as pretty girls tend to swoon over him. Why don’t they excite him like Scott does? And why does Scott hate him?
Bryan’s confusion over his sexuality, his attraction to Scott, and their hostile relationship are all well-described. Bryan isn’t only messed up over Scott. He’s seriously torqued-off with his dad, who abandoned him and his mother for a very much younger woman, with whom he has another child. Bryan wants to hate his dad–and he’s been pretty steadfast at it for years–but the new, “kinder gentler” Bryan responds to his mom’s urging to build a relationship, even if it’s not perfect.
Bryan is convinced that the key to his mental issues lay with Scott–and he hounds his schoolmate until he learns bits and pieces of the truth. He and Scott had been dating on the “down low” until Bryan did the unforgivable. He caved to some serious pressure from his Superjock/Jerk pals and humiliated Scott in order to hide his own attraction. And Scott’s not likely to forget it.
There was this part, where Bryan realizes all his teammates already knew about himself and Scott–and wonders what it was he was hiding for…
and he recognizes the futility of all his bullying shenanigans. In the end, coming out is just what he has to do, even if Scott will never accept him as a boyfriend. In fact, Bryan’s willing to take any friendship that Scott will offer in order to be close to him.
This causes more issues, and prompts Bryan to move his alliance from the Superjocks to Scott–and build all new friendships in the process. The level of intolerance spans from simple taunting to all-out battery, something the new Bryan won’t tolerate. I was glad to watch Bryan “get it”. I was also glad to see Scott really consider all that Bryan does to prove his loyalty and friendship. It was refreshing that Scott wasn’t a dishrag–he has a spine, complete with heavy armored plating–Bryan really has to work to gain forgiveness for all his wrongs, and he does it all with a sense of style–even joining a flash mob for a teacher to hang with Scott.
By the end I was so rooting for Scott to accept Bryan–the New Bryan–that I was reading as fast as I possibly could to get to the end–and was relieved to find the resolution excellent.
How about a little taste:
“Hey, you guys!” Marley plunked her ass down on the chair across the table from me. As usual, Kathy followed closely behind and hovered by her shoulder when Marley sat down. “I’ve got big news!”
We all turned to her at once. Josh even put down his walnut-grape-granola-goat-cheese-chicken-salad sandwich on focaccia to give her his full attention. “What’s up?” he asked between enthusiastic chews.
“I just heard some teachers talking in the hall. And they said that Friday is Miss
Libby’s thirtieth birthday.”
Kathy pursed her green lips. “We can’t let it pass without doing something for her. She’s the coolest teacher at Appleton.”
“You know what would be so funny?” It was Josh again. “It would be such a riot if we set up a flash mob for her.”
We all laughed, just imagining it in our heads.
“No, seriously,” Josh said. “We should set up a flash mob for her. Doesn’t she have lunch duty on most Fridays?”
Is this the Josh I know?
But, then, what did I have to lose? “I’m in.” It was the least I could do for Miss Libby, who’d given me a chance to redeem myself with Scotty.
“You’d do that?” Scott appeared absolutely scandalized. “What about those guys?” He again nodded toward the Superjocks. “They’ll never let you live it down.”
“Ask me if I care?”
Scott just sat there, his full spoon frozen just beneath his lips.
When Scott didn’t voice the question, David did. “D-do y-you c-care?”
I looked squarely at David. “Not even slightly. Plus, you should see me dance. It
is something to behold.”
Josh rolled his eyes, because he’d seen it a time or two, but everyone else seated
at the Social Justice League Table nodded and grinned.
“I’ll get together as many kids as I can and I’ll find some music. We can practice at the community center right after school on Thursday. I’ll reserve it.” Marley was always on top of those kinds of things.
That posed a problem for me, though: basketball practice. But I had new priorities. I would work it out. “I’ll be there. How about all of you?”
Everybody nodded again. Scott had turned an enticing shade of pink.
I looked right at him and said, “Then Thursday after school is a date.”
Interested? You can find THE RED SHEET on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Dreamspinner Press.
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About the Author:
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five non-pedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.
Themes Mia always writes about: Sweetness. Unconventional love, tortured/damaged heroes – only love can save them. You can find Mia on her website, Amazon, Facebook, and Goodreads.
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