“Trailer Trash” by Marie Sexton is a m/m coming of age romance that centers around Nate, who starts his senior year of high school in a town vastly different from the bustling urban city in Texas that he is used to. Set adrift by his parents’ divorce, his father’s betrayal, and the difficulty of finding a place in the new school, he is drawn to Cody despite the other boy’s standoffishness. Discovering they come from diametrically opposite worlds doesn’t prevent the realization that they have more in common than not. Unfortunately, the upheavals in the world around them threatens to end their relationship before it can truly begin.
This was one of those stories that unexpectedly grabbed me and kept me fascinated and invested in the characters until the very end. I love gradually unfolding relationships and, although I feared this would be one of those over-the-top angsty stories about young adults, I was delightfully surprised to be caught up in this tale about finding one’s identity and sexual preferences during the hectic final year of high school. The culture shock experienced by Nate, who not only has to deal with his family having exploded, but is plopped into the small town atmosphere where he has to deal with some surprisingly adult temptations, plus his gradual realization that he is gravitating toward behavior that is going to make him even more ostracized, is all vividly and adeptly depicted. I was plunged back into that fearful atmosphere that characterized the panic over the AIDS epidemic and the ignorance and suspicion that abounded at the time, and reminded how difficult it was to carve a life where one could be out and proud.
The author evoked the contrasting despair and euphoria of teen life so well that I felt like these were a couple of young men I knew, and the secondary characters enriched the tale so much that I ached for the issues that the respective single parents faced and want to know more about their lives as well, while I mourned at other events (yes, a tissue was required!). The love scenes are discreet and the character journey is the star of the story, so I would have no problem recommending this story to mature young adults. There are still unanswered questions and I definitely want to see more of Nate and Cody’s lives, so I sincerely hope that there is a sequel in the works. I have found a new author to add to my (much too long) list of authors to watch!
It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.
Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.
Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.