Throughout June, GeekMom celebrates Pride Month with lots of LGBTQ content. Follow the Pride Month tag to find all the content in one space (including LGBTQ content from previous years), and keep checking back for more throughout the month. Today’s book review is Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean.
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Trigger Warning: homophobia, panic attacks/anxiety
Middle-grade LGBTQ stories are rarer than YA and adult ones, but I immediately fell in love with Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow by Benjamin Dean, a first-person story told from the perspective of twelve-year-old, mixed-race Archie Albright. Mild trigger warnings for homophobia apply, but these situations are handled in a way appropriate for middle-grade readers.
Archie lives in a small English town just outside of London. Until recently, he shared his home with his parents, but his father has now moved out following many months of fighting and Archie is struggling to come to terms with his new living arrangement. Thankfully, he has his two best friends, Seb and Bell, to rely on. After a disastrous parents’ evening at his school, Archie accidentally overhears his parents having yet another fight and learns that his father has realized he is gay.
Not sure how this new information will change his relationship with his dad, Archie finds himself increasingly confused and unhappy until he finds a flyer for London Pride in his dad’s car. Researching the event, he sees dozens of photos of happy, smiling faces and families. Convinced that the secret to repairing his relationship with his father lies at the parade, Archie recruits his two best friends and they hatch a plan to go on a real-life adventure to the big city and discover what Pride is all about.
This was such an upbeat and adorable story that I inhaled the entire thing in a little over twelve hours (including a full night’s sleep)! Archie’s narration is just so fun—even when he’s talking about feeling down—that he keeps you always wanting to turn the page and find out what happens next. Often I find that books with younger protagonists can come across as overly pretentious because kids don’t really speak that way, but Archie reminded me of my own similarly aged son. Yes, it was all a little bit predictable, but that never once felt like a problem thanks to the main characters who were engaging enough that it didn’t matter. There were a few awkwardly clunky bits of exposition where one of the kids would read a word or phrase from somewhere and not understand it, leading another to explain the term like a walking, talking Wikipedia entry, but this was entirely forgivable in a middle-grade novel and might well be useful for young readers unfamiliar with the LGBTQ community and its many and varied acronyms.
Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow was a brilliant book that perfectly captured the buzz and vibrancy of a big city Pride celebration without letting it seem as if Pride is nothing more than an excuse to dress up in glitter and have a party. The importance of Pride as a movement is captured here both in a general sense and through the eyes of Archie’s family—and his dad, specifically. Reading Me, My Dad, and the End of the Rainbow made me realize how important it is that we get events like this back on our streets following covid19, and I would highly recommend it to everyone. After all, any book in which a hoard of fabulous drag queens is called upon to help save the day has to be worth your time, right?!
GeekMom received a copy of this book for review purposes.