Living with his emotionally distant father for the summer in the gay resort town of Ogunquit, Maine, Danny wishes he had "someone to relate to." Danny befriends Hector, a coworker at Dishes, a local bar. Hector has a crush on Danny, who's straight, and Danny wants to be clear that he's not interested. But when Hector starts hooking up with Chase, a shameless player, Danny is concerned. His reaction surprises him and prompts his new girlfriend, Mercy, to question his sexuality. Danny wonders: if he and Hector are just friends, why is he so upset about Chase?
JLG Release: Jan 2009
Praise & Reviews
Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book Guide, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal
Junior Library Guild
Soon, Dan Near the beginning of Dishes, as Danny stands on the beach and watches the ocean, he thinks, “Before summer gets too old, I’d like to share a night like this with somebody.” Danny’s longing for connection is touchingly idealistic, and it’s the heartbeat of this winning novel about expectations and relationships.
Soon, Danny’s wish for a night on the beach becomes a reality, though the somebody he shares it with isn’t of the gender he’d anticipated: “[Hector] sighs and keeps staring at the moon. He hasn’t moved closer to me or anything, but I’m wary. Don’t want him to get lost in the moment.” Danny’s reaction is never offensive or homophobic, only insecure. When he lets his guard down enough to make friends with Hector, it’s one of the best scenes in the book.
Danny’s vision of romance becomes even more complicated when he meets Mercy, a cute server at the Haddock Shack, a restaurant in town. Their flirtatious relationship seems easy at first, but when Danny frets about Chase and Hector getting together, Mercy pulls back, which makes Danny get defensive: “You got a problem with gay people?” The end of their first date is realistically, almost painfully, awkward. Later, a conversation with his previously detached father inspires Danny to repair his flagging relationships with Hector and Mercy—and his dad.
Throughout Dishes, true-to-life scenes complement Rich Wallace’s equally convincing and evocative portrait of a seaside resort town. It’s an appropriate setting for Danny to explore his starry-eyed notions of romance—and to discover that real life can be so much more interesting.
5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Level 3.8; Points: 4;
Scholastic Reading Counts
Level 3.5; Points: 10;
Potentially Sensitive Areas
Language: Mild Language, Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes
Homosexuality, Gay bars, Stereotypes, Summer jobs, Beach towns, Running, Parenting, Moonrises, Coming out of the closet, Softball, Homophobia, First dates, Tourists, Teenage pregnancy, Jealousy, The beach at night, Rain storms, Work schedules, Sleeping around, Fistfights, Engagements,