Sanchez, Alex. 2005. Rainbow Road. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689865651.
B. Plot Summary
Rainbow Road is the sharing of a cross-country trip three friends make after high school graduation. With each chapter focusing on the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of each boy, readers are allowed inside each character to understand his feelings on being gay in today's society.
C. Critical Analysis
Rainbow Road reads well and easily, but is definitely for the older teen as it has many scenes of sexual activity or characters thinking about sex.
The novel is exemplary in that it focuses on three very different young men, all of whom are gay, and the myriad of emotions involved in being gay in today's world. Flashbacks of how family members accepted the boys' "coming out" are woven into the story, along with experiences with other gay communities and bisexuals or those who call themselves "heteroflexible".
The boys' memories of how life was like when they were young comes out when, at one camp ground, they meet a little boy, age seven, who exhibits the same characteristics as the bigger boys, along with the same overbearing, abusive, narrow-minded father.
Mixed in to the story of examining emotions, feelings, and relationships are all the ups and downs of a 2,700 mile road trip, packed into a small car, characters getting on one another's nerves, ergo- a typical "family" road trip. A vacation of disasters many teens will be able to relate to.
Rainbow Road allows teens who are gay or lesbian to have a book they can relate to, that is written for them, and about them, that lets them know they are not alone on their life's journey.
D. Review Excerpts
School Library Journal–The final installment of this trilogy is a true winner. Even though coming out publicly resulted in Virginia high school basketball star Jason Carrillo's losing his college athletic scholarship, it turned him into an important role model for gay and lesbian teens. And so, when a new GLBT high school in Los Angeles is searching for a keynote speaker for its opening ceremony, it is not surprising that Jason is given an all-expenses-paid invitation. His boyfriend, Kyle, definitely wants to be there, too. And Kyle's best friend–pink-haired, boy-hungry Nelson–has a car and thinks that this would be the perfect opportunity for a post-senior-year road trip. Virginia to L.A. by car: 3000 miles and plenty of time to gain an understanding of what being gay in America is all about. These boys are distinct personalities and genuine teens, searching for clarity and identity and acceptance, trying to make sense of themselves and a world that can be equally bright and dark. Sanchez writes with humor and compassion. Some mature romance scenes, occasional frank language, and an inclusion of transgender/transsexual/bisexual story lines translate into a tender book that will likely be appreciated and embraced by young adult readers.
Encourage students to read other books in the Rainbow series, Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High.
If allowed, offer students access to LGBT websites mentioned at the end of Rainbow Road in the appendix.