Life is hard when you’re 9th grader, Wyatt. He’s trying to keep his head above water in a school where he’s bullied constantly and dating his best friend MacKenzie. He loves MacKenzie and he wants to want to date her, but he just doesn’t. Dating MacKenzie does give Wyatt a bit of relief from the gay jokes and digs that he receives daily… so maybe it’s a good thing?
When their class is assigned a book report on Abraham Lincoln, Wyatt is given a rare book by the librarian: Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend. As Wyatt is reading the book he comes to the conclusion that Lincoln was gay! What if the world found out that Lincoln was gay? Would that change anything? Wyatt does some research and posts on his school blog about the relationship between Lincoln and Speed.
A simple book report creates a huge splash and soon Wyatt is drowning. The bullying worsens, the Principal threatens to hold him back a grade if he doesn’t delete his work and even the girlfriend he couldn’t want… dumps him. When his blog gets picked up by the media everything spirals out of control and the welfare of Wyatt’s family is in jeopardy. The Lincoln-themed B & B that Wyatt’s parents own begins to lose customers, his Mom’s employment is threatened and the town fights back.
The one bright light is Wyatt’s out, gay friend, Martin. Wyatt got connected to Martin online and he’s helping to promote Wyatt’s theory that Lincoln is gay. But that’s just making things worse! HIs parents are furious, no one at school talks to him except to insult him… pretty much the whole town hates him.
When Martin and his lawyer Mom arrive at the B & B, the tide begins to turn.
Struggling to find his way through the mess his life has become, Wyatt begins to fight for Lincoln and Speed’s right to be who they were, and by virtue of that… his own.
This is a lovely story about the “battle of 9th grade”. Middle school is a difficult time for kids… I still remember. Wind writes Wyatt’s journey of self-discovery well; leading the reader through the panic of thinking you’re different, the terror of finding out you are and then the hope that comes with finding allies on your journey.
I will happily recommend this book to all the kids in my life because I want them to read about a small town kid who is fighting to be himself. This is a good story and it means something to my heart.
I received a digital ARC copy of “Queer As A Five Dollar Bill” from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.