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All his life, fifteen-year-old San Francisco Soames has been told he is just like his father. But when his father announces that he's moving in with another man, Cisco starts questioning the resemblance. To top it off, he's suspended from school for fighting - even though all he did was provide his face as the punching bag for the school bully - and then accused of putting an old man in a coma.
Things go from bad to worse when his parents want to send him from their small town in Vermont to British Columbia to keep him out of trouble.
Trouble is the last thing Cisco wants. All he wants is to be left alone so he can figure out just how things have gone so wrong. And British Columbia! That's two thousand miles away - who is going to keep an eye on his ten-year-old twin sisters while he's gone? Plus he'll be staying with his uncle, someone he's never even seen before, someone who runs a Rocky Mountain Dude ranch, someone who is known in the family as "Uncle Party."
Things couldn't get any worse, could they?
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Nancy Belgue is the author of three books of middle-grade fiction, all published with Orca. Her first book, The Scream of the Hawk, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the Diamond Willow Award. Soames on the Range is her first novel for young adults. Originally submitted to a young adult novel contest sponsored by Delacorte in the US, it was one of four finalists. After graduating with a degree in English literature, Nancy spent much of her career working in publishing and advertising. She has appeared in television commercials and documentaries, including an award-winning documentary, Streetsmart. Nancy was a winner of a column-writing contest sponsored by the Toronto Sun, has had articles published in magazines in Canada and the United States and written short stories and poetry, as well as novels. She currently works part-time in a library in southwestern Ontario and as a literary/drama artist for Learning Through the Arts.From School Library Journal:
Grade 7–10—San Francisco Soames has never had a "normal" family. He and his siblings are named after places, his twin sisters are always getting into trouble, and his parents are former hippies. But things take a turn for the worse in their small Vermont town when his parents inform him that his father is gay. A homophobic bullying incident outside a pharmacy, in which the store's owner attempts to protect Cisco with a shotgun, turns ugly and the next thing Cisco knows, he's responsible for putting Mr. Patterson in a coma. In an attempt to give their son a fresh start, the boy's parents send him to his Uncle Vincent's ranch in middle-of-nowhere British Columbia, but Cisco's fate doesn't immediately improve upon landing on Canadian soil. He appreciates cooking and eating good food, but his uncle's moose stew is barely edible. Belgue excels at capturing the realities of small-town life. Likewise, details of the Canadian wilderness will make readers feel transported to the great white North. Unfortunately, the story suffers from uneven pacing and characters who never quite come to life. While Cisco's cooking aspirations could draw an audience, they are not a large enough part of the story and fail to carry it. Given the dearth of YA fiction featuring gay parents, this title is significant. However, the Canadian setting and other shortcomings make it a hard sell.—Jennifer Barnes, Gleason Public Library, Carlisle, MA
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