Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 125 Pages
At a Glance: This was a quick and enjoyable read for me, and I definitely recommend it as a nice addition to this series.
Reviewed By: Sadonna
Blurb: When Sandy Nixon’s conservative Catholic parents discover he’s had sex before marriage, they are furious. But when he blurts out he’s bisexual, they go ballistic. After they threaten him with conversion therapy, Sandy does what many queer kids long to do—leaves his homophobic parents in the dust. He moves in with his Uncle Phineas and Phineas’s partner, Cody, in Portland, Oregon, and is finally safe to be himself. Sandy misses his siblings, though, and decides to visit his former home in Rockford for Thanksgiving. On the train, he runs into Jade Byrne.
As the only out gay kid in their Catholic high school, Jade has stared down homophobes while being fabulous in the school musicals. He’s crushed on Sandy for years. But he’s made sure never to show it, even after they had a onetime hookup, because Sandy’s the good Catholic kid, the altar boy, and the apparently straight athlete—all the things Jade isn’t. Traveling back to Rockford together sees the start of a month of adventures, a blossoming attraction, and a chance for Sandy to learn what it means to have a family that hurts and to choose a family that heals.
Review: Sand-Man’s Family is the third book in the Wild and Precious series. While it can be read as a standalone, I think it’s much more effective having read at least the second book of the series, There You Are. The first book isn’t quite as integral to this story, but the second one really sets the stage for this one.
Sandy has settled nicely into his life with his Uncle Phineas and his partner, Cody, in Portland. He’s started college and is doing well, but he misses his four siblings and has actually been invited home for Thanksgiving. Uncle Phineas and Cody are going to have Thanksgiving with Sandy’s grandparents and other family members, but they certainly haven’t been invited to the Nixon’s. They all decide to take the train to Chicago and then drive to Rockford for this trip, and Cody and Phineas will go on from there to visit others on an extended vacation, while Sandy will have to return to Portland for school after the break.
As luck would have it, when the train reaches Seattle and makes ready to depart for Chicago, Jade Byrne, a former classmate of Sandy’s at St. Ignatius, is also heading back to Rockford for Thanksgiving. Jade was the only out kid in their high school. He was in all the school plays and is now in college in Seattle. Sandy is happy to see him and Jade is stunned to see Sandy since he never knew what happened to him when he disappeared from Rockford.
It seems that at one point, Sandy and Jade may have been more than just classmates. Sandy always thought Jade was amazing, and he was envious of his ability to just be who he was. For his part, Jade may have had a bit of a crush on Sandy, the BMoC. Sandy explains to Jade why he left and what happened in Portland and confesses that he had a boyfriend, but that he wasn’t in the picture any longer. Jade is excited to hear about the boyfriend, but he’s a bit suspicious of Sandy and expects that he will settle down with some girl since he identifies as bi.
Well, of course the family reunion is not all wine and roses, and we learn more about the Nixon family dynamic. We also learn in vivid detail what exactly led to Sandy’s decision to leave his family behind and go out on his own. Connor, Sandy’s younger brother, is happy to see him, as are the little sisters, his best friend Josh, and his grandparents. His parents, on the other hand, seem to have difficulty dealing with Sandy being home and being determined not to stay there. Phineas and Cody and Jade are at the ready should any shenanigans occur.
Sandy is extremely disappointed to find that his parents still do not accept who he is, and try to get him to agree to change. Needless to say, this is not going to happen. Luckily Sandy has support from everyone else in the family, and he has to take his leave of the situation before things get out of hand. Jade does his best to support Sandy, but he’s still wary of his motivations and his true feelings. Sandy has to do some groveling and some convincing for Jade to see the light.
Along the way, some old issues pop up that almost derail the budding relationship between Sandy and Jade. But once again, friends and family come through. That is truly the theme of this story—that family is defined as those people who love and support you, no matter what. Those folks who have your back and trust in you and believe in you are what make a true family. For Sandy, that means Phineas and Cody and his grandparents and Connor and Blaine and Gemma and hopefully more.
I really liked this story. It was a natural progression from the previous book and Sandy’s growth, and the glimpse of the family situation he walked away from was integral to understanding his motivations. I loved Jade and his dad, Jack. It would be great if more kids had accepting parents and had an easier path. This was a quick and enjoyable read for me, and I definitely recommend it as a nice addition to this series.
You can buy Sand-Man’s Family here: