Reardon, Robin. “The Evolution of Ethan Poe”, Kensington Books, 2011.
I became a fan of Robin Reardon with her first book and have remained one through all three and now she comes along and gives us a coming out story that is one o the most beautifully heartfelt story I have ever read.
At 16, Ethan Poe knows he is gay and he is faced with a struggle o being balanced in life (and all of us can identify with that). Things have not been going well—his parents are splitting up and his brother Kyle is on a purity kick. His best friend, Jorja, is praying for Ethan to be straight and Ethan has a crush on Max Modine as his whole world seems to be falling apart. Ethan lives in a small town in Maine and everything seems to be going wrong. To make things even crazier, Ethan is pulled into a conflict about whether Intelligent Design should be discussed in the science classroom at school and the debate is becoming nasty. Against this Ethan has to deal with coming out and he has to decide just how far he is willing to stand up for what he really believes. All of this happens in a relatively short time period. Dealing with his parents is hard enough for Ethan but his brother seems to have gone off the deep end and his friend trying to pray Ethan’s gay away just further complicates everything. Ethan also has to deal with his father and juggling both fitting in and still standing out. And then there are his feelings for Max.
As the debate over Intelligent Design heats up, people come apart and the school becomes a war zone and Ethan is forced to take a stand. Ethan manages to survive all of this and becomes who he feels he should and was meant to be.
The story is very real and is actually based upon an incident that really happened. Now we must understand that aside from his sexuality, Ethan was already an outsider, he dressed in Goth style and was proud that he was related to Edgar Allan Poe. Jorja also considers himself to be Goth but he is also a practicing Christian. When Ethan finally hooks up with Max, he is thrown into the debate at school and the town takes sides with the Fundamentalist Christians on one side and the secular citizens on the other.
Granted there is a lot going on in the novel but Reardon manages not only to keep us on tack but to do so with style and with this style we get to know Ethan. I wanted to hold him and tell him that everything was going to be all right. We feel his tension and we identify with him. Reardon takes the coming out story and reinterprets it in a way that grabs us and holds us.