As usual, I’m the first student in the room. I give Ms. Yang a weak welcome. She looks me over with a keen eye but says nothing other than hello. I pull out my sketch of Mei-Li, thinking it’s ready for oils, but find I can’t look at it. She hasn’t done anything wrong, but after the conversation I just had with Clay, I can’t bear to work on it right now. I put it aside and get a fresh canvas from the cabinet in the back, deciding to start something new, something dark and abstract. Maybe I can work through some of my emotions by putting them down on the taut white fabric.
I squeeze out colors onto my palette, being sure to add a good amount of black and gray so I can darken some of the brighter colors. Grabbing a handful of different kinds of brushes, I deposit them all on the table next to my station and stare at the blinding white canvas. The bright purity of it makes me mad. Clean is the last thing I feel. I grope for a brush, any brush, and dip it into a blob of paint without looking to see which one.
Angry splashes of color appear in front of me, tarnishing the pure canvas, my emotions spilling out without my saying a word. I change brushes and colors. Finding I’ve got a bright, glaring red, I stipple it around the canvas, illustrating the hate that currently surrounds me, the hate I have for myself and my selfishness. I add swirls of gray for my uncertainty, purple for my confusion.
I’m so engrossed in the process, I never notice Jules arrive. I don’t take note of anything or anyone else in the class. My focus is narrow, not allowing another thing through. I would have missed the bell ringing if it wasn’t for Ms. Yang’s gentle touch on my shoulder.
“Ian, class is over.”
I blink several times and snap out of my trance, staring at the creation I’ve made. It should be a mess of muddy colors and amateurish strokes, but somehow, it’s perfect. It’s chaotic and wild, just like my thoughts and emotions. There are small patches of white still peeking through. A sign that there’s still some good to me? To my life? I don’t know.
Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.
When he’s trying not to stare at teammates in the locker room, he’s busy hiding another secret—that he starves himself so he doesn’t get bumped to the next weight class.
Enter Julian Yang, an Adonis with mesmerizing looks and punk rocker style. Befriending the flirtatious artist not only raises suspicion among his classmates, but leaves Ian terrified he’ll give in to the desires he’s fought to ignore.
As secrets come to light, Ian’s world crumbles. Disowned, defriended, and deserted by nearly everyone, Ian’s one-way ticket out of town is revoked, leaving him trapped in a world he hates—and one that hates him back.
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Genre - LGBT, YA
Rating – PG-13
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