By Jimmy Gleacher
Gallery, $15.00, 292 pages
If you are uncomfortable with explicit language, sexual references and the sexual exploitation of a minor, this is not the book for you. Now that you’ve been warned, however, you may be interested enough to give Paradise Rules a try. At first, what seems like a light-hearted story of a teen’s summer vacation turns into a deep and troubling confession of a young man’s frustration with not being able to trust and depend on the adults in his life and of his struggles to free himself and take control of his own future.
This is the humorous yet dark story of Gates, a typical 17-year-old kid on summer break – caddying at the local golf course, volunteering at the elderly home and hanging out with his girlfriend… typical except for the relationship he has with his godmother. With his mom always on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Gates has to not only bear that constant burden, but also attempt to deter his godmother’s inappropriate seductions and deal with the fear of his mom’s reaction if she found out. In addition, he’s dealing with his loving but suspicious girlfriend, his plans to run away to boarding school and his boss’s gambling. A witty and humorous narrator, Gates comes across as very mature for a teenager, which fits, considering the circumstances he has been forced to deal with at such a young age.
Reviewed by Aimee Rasmussen