Welsh, Missy. My Summer of Wes. Second edition: Missy Welsh, 2015. 250 p. Paperback. ISBN 978-1-51-919270-7. First edition, 2010, Loose Id.
This is a delightful melodrama of a young shy man, Malcolm Small, slowly coming out under the tutelage of his new boyfriend, slightly older Wesley Kinney, who moved with his family across the street. They become fast friends and later lovers. Toward the end he is forced to come out to his homophobic father who beats him severely and throws him out of the house. He crawls across the street to the Kinney’s and they take him to the hospital where he gradually recovers. Before that Mal and Wes rent an apartment at the university where they both will start college. Mal’s father cuts off all funding, but Mal writes a heart-felt essay for “It gets better” and posts it on YouTube. Sympathetic folks contribute $30,000, which he eventually accepts to help with college expenses. At the end his mother comes for a visit, having left her abusive husband and hoping for a reconciliation. So, as the novel says at the end, this “is just the beginning.”
Missy Welsh is an expert writer of gay erotica, not that this novel is overly erotic. There is a fair amount of sex which begins very slowly but picks up toward the end. Mal learns how to assert himself after a life-time of bullying. The author is an expert with gay sex and describes it movingly but with sensitivity. The characters are convincing and well drawn, with lots of dialogue.
Libraries that collect gay erotic fiction will want this book and readers will find it entertaining as well despite its occasional tragic events.
James Doig Anderson
Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University