Book Title: Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year
Author: Vincent Traughber Meis
Publisher: Spectrum Books
Release Date: March 4, 2023
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Tropes: First love
Themes: Coming of Age, Racial identity, Gay parenting
Heat Rating: 2 flames
Length: 58 000 words/ 231 pages
It is a standalone story.
It is the third book that focuses on the Burd siblings:
Four Calling Burds, First Born Sons, Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year.
The book does not end on a cliffhanger.
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Colton searches for the surrogate mom he hasn't seen since the day he was born
Colton is on a quest to meet his surrogate mom who might help him navigate being a Black teenager in today’s America. The woman who gave birth to him is Black. His dads are not. His diverse community of family and friends includes lots of LGBTQ+ people, though his first love is a girl of mixed race like him. Colton’s dads reluctantly introduce him to his birth mother, but she doesn’t turn out to be the person he hoped for. On his journey of falling in love, nearly losing one of his dads, and confronting a racist cousin, he learns about love, non-traditional families, community, and what is important in life. The biggest challenge of all is something he discovers about his birth, causing friction with his dads. But like every difficulty in his life, the love of his dads ultimately carries him along and lifts him up.
I can pinpoint the day my life started getting strange, and by strange, I mean grown-up. My parents had just picked me up at the police station. It was the first time I had gotten in trouble with law enforcement and my dads (yes; I have two dads) were upset and, I suppose, embarrassed, and a bunch of other emotions. Let me just say, my dads are the coolest people on earth and probably don’t deserve the hard time I sometimes give them when I do stupid things and say stupid things and they get mad, and I get mad back. I don’t even want to think about all the times we ended up in tears because, you know, life is hard, and I really love them, and they really love me.
Those times the three of us ended up blubbering idiots were the worst but later turned out to be the best when we finished the evening on the couch eating ice cream and watching a movie that we all agreed was terrible and laughed and cuddled under a blanket because evenings are always cold in San Francisco, including in the summer. And, even if they weren’t, I loved the warmth and comfort of being in a family that wasn’t afraid to show affection.
But coming home from the police station was tough. I walked into the house in front of my dads and was headed for my room, my happy place, feeling like everything would be okay if I could get to my room and close the door on all the bad stuff. But before I was halfway down the hall, I heard my dad’s raised voice. “Where are you going?” That’s my dad, Augie, August actually, who I call Dad.
It was pretty obvious, but I said, “To my room.”
And my other dad chimed in. “No, you’re not.” His name is Ruben, but I call him Papi. He was born in Los Angeles, though his parents are from Mexico.
“Did you think that was the end of it?” said Dad. “You’ve lost your screen time for a week and you will come home directly from school until further notice.”
“I said I was sorry.” I think I actually groaned like I was the most unfortunate teenager in the world, which I knew was a long, long way from the truth.
“Sorry doesn’t cut it. There have to be consequences.” That was Dad with the dreaded c-word, a favorite with parents, teachers, and, I guess, adults in general.
Here’s the deal. My two best friends, Fer and Josh, and I went downtown after school and ended up in the Target store. It’s not something we do a lot because we often have basketball practice or Fer has to go home and take care of his younger sibs because both his parents work or Josh has to do something because whichever one of his divorced parents he’s with on a particular day is on his case. And Dad is now home all the time because he took a leave of absence from his job at the Mission Branch of the public library so he could pursue writing full time. If I’m not home by a certain time, I get the third degree. But the way the stars lined up that day, we didn’t have basketball practice. Fer’s mom stayed home because the clients she cooks for were out of town; it was the part of the week Josh was with his dad and his dad was working late; and my dad went to some writing event in Berkeley and wouldn’t be home until dinnertime. We were free. It was amazing how rarely that happened on a weekday.
About the Author
Vincent Traughber Meis grew up in Decatur, Illinois where he got his start writing plays for his younger sisters to act in for a neighborhood audience. He graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans and worked for many years as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, publishing many academic articles in his field. He published travel articles, poems, and book reviews in publications such as, The Advocate, LA Weekly, In Style, and Our World in the 1980’s and 90’s. He finally arrived at his true writing love: novels and short stories. Five of his seven published novels are set at least partially in foreign countries and his book of short stories focuses on countries around the world. Several of his novels have won Rainbow Awards and The Mayor of Oak Street was awarded a Reader Views Silver Award. He has published short stories in a number of collections and has achieved Finalist status in a few short fiction contests. He lives in San Leandro, California.
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