“Gomer knew what coming out was. He had taken the sex-ed classes, and there were gay people in his town, but they tended to come for weekends and the summer, because they had jobs in the city. They were rich gay people, in other words, and he went to public school, and the local people were different.”
Rescue Plan by Stephanie Barbe Hammer is the story of fifteen-year-old Gomer Faithcutt, a cancer survivor in search of a life plan. His hometown, Narrow Interior, is confining. His mom left the family to return to China when he was nine. His depressed dad, Gideon, is an artist who doesn’t have time to paint and is way too careful. Gomer lives with him and a chain-smoking landlady in an old house. He’s becoming aware of his bisexuality, a thing he’s not ready to discuss with his dad.
Is a Rescue Plan a Survival Plan?
With his cancer in remission, and unsure about the future, Gomer wants more than a survival plan. He wants to fulfill goals. Along with his good friend Mackie, a girl he likes in a way he hasn’t yet defined, Gomer is taking a Junior Lifeguard Certification course. He’d started the course previously, but, as a result of cancer treatment, he was unable to complete his certification by passing the water challenges such as a mock rescue of a drowning person.
The course coach is less than understanding as Gomer works to regain his strength. Yet Gomer has a sense of magic that serves him well. In the showers at the public pool where he is training, he sees the image of a woman in the water. He meets the beautiful and graceful Christopher, who plays the mandolin. When a billionaire moves across the street from Gomer, we’re in the realm of the extraordinary.
A Rescue Plan Contains Multitudes
“People tend to assume you’re just one thing. Not more.” Rescue Plan is a work about being more than one thing. Gomer likes guys, girls, water, music, and ethereal beings. He fights weakness, cancer, an unempathetic coach, and even a chain-smoking landlady. And he learns something about himself and his loved ones along the way.
“If someone you love teaches you something—anything—it’s a gift you hold onto. It’s a raft and a buoy.”
High School Housekeeping: I’m a big proponent of having a lot of short reads in the teen library. Placing novelettes on their own racks and spinners encourages readers to shop. But it also makes available good stories for students learning English and teens who are intimidated by longer work. Rescue Plan is published by the indie publisher Bamboo Dart Press and is available for purchase from their website, on Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and on Amazon. It’s a different read than the typical short novel for teens such as those from Orca. While I love the availability of those books, this fifty-page indie read is a chance to add something more edgy and more magical to the collection. It’s a more mature read that will appeal to the teen LGBTQ community as well.