Henri, Sherri. “Last of the Summer Tomatoes”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
Struggling with Adolescence and Sexuality
Kyle Jackowski is an emo teen who struggles with his sexuality. As he does, he gets into trouble with the law over and over again. His sentence for the last caper is commuted and instead, Kyle has to work on a farm for the summer. It is there that he meets the farm owner’s son, Sam, who shows Kyle that there is nothing wrong with loving someone and that he does not need to hide how he feels. Sam’s family shows him love and he realizes that his stepfather who is so abusive and his mother who suffers because of this are not the kinds of parents that others have. Kyle learns to accept himself and Sam’s love.
Adolescent sexuality has become a big issue lately and it is good to see people writing about it. Books like this are designed to help teens deal with the years of self-doubt. Henry has created quite a character in Kyle. He is sympathetic and he suffers from low self-esteem. I wanted to put my arm around him and tell him that everything would be alright and to just have patience. It is ultimately love that saves him—his life had been one of hurtful experience after hurtful experience. Many like him would not have the strength or the desire to live a good life. It would have been so easy for him to just give up. Instead, he was very lucky to learn that someone (Sam) thought him to be loveable thus giving him the ability to love himself.
Kyle, despite the abuse he had to deal with, is a sensitive guy with a soft-heart and he has love that he wants so badly to share. Beneath all the hurt that he suffered is a young man with talent and intelligence.
This is a simple story that is totally predictable and it is a sweet romance that is completely believable. There is no graphic sex—it is just the story of a young man finding love.
Because of his horrible home life, it came as no surprise that Kyle would get into trouble. The trouble just happened to be the catalyst for his finding what he needed. He was so starved for love and needed it so badly that when he met Sam and his parents, things just fell into place for him. He learns that he is worthy of love and he is so appreciative of the love that he gets.
This is a book that is written for young adults but that does not mean that we cannot enjoy it as well. All of us need to do some soul searching and watching Kyle do so makes the reader feel good.