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Sprout - Dale Peck It shouldn't take too long for this to make teen banned book lists across America. It's well-written, so it's probably going to be passed around high school friends quite quickly. However, it has more innuedo to profanity and sex than any novel I've read in a while. Yes, I said "innuendo". Sometimes double entendre and allusion gives you enough of a picture to not have to be reading the actual thing. And this was the author's intention. The back cover says that "Sprout has a secret. It's not what you think -- he'll tell you he's gay." I assumed this meant that his sexuality wasn't going to be a focus of the book. I was wrong.

I have to say that I fell in love with the writer's ideas for eccentric characters in this book. Daniel (a.k.a. Sprout) is a talented writer with green hair. He loves word play. I love word play. Thus, Sprout was instantly cast in my mind as a character who could have been my high school best friend (except that my real best friend in high school wasn't gay). Sprout's dad has moved them from Long Island to Kansas to deal with his newly found widowdom. Dad's idea of landscaping includes planting vines to cover their small trailer and planting rows upon rows of dead trees with their roots up in the air instead of in the ground. Sprout's English teacher invites Sprout over to her house to practice his essay-writing and serves him alcohol and profanity (both of which he declines). It seems, however, that she's really invited him over to get closer to one of the subjects of his writing (and it's not Sprout).

The author has a real talent for creating memorable and distinct characters and has a real talent for using words in the most effective way possible. Even though the storyline of the book doesn't pick up intensity until the last half of the book, I barely noticed because I was so busy absorbing the nice words. While the novel is basically a "coming of age story" about a gay teenage boy, it's not as generic and cliche as it sounds. It's also about love found and love lost, but that, too, seems to not do justice to the writing and characters which bring this novel to life.

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.