My Summer of Wes is a novel by Missy Welsh. It tells the story of Malcolm, a recent high school graduate who is counting the days until he can move from his family for college. High school was extremely difficult for him as he was constantly picked on and called an assortment of slurs. But he could never bring himself to stand up and defend himself. This made the entire experience isolating, and now the only thing he can hope for is to be able to make a friend who isn’t aware of his past.
At the start of the story, a new family moves onto his street and he has hopes of becoming friends with their son. Malcolm sees him one day washing his car shirtless. Despite not having been able to make friends in the past, Malcolm gets up the nerve to attempt to approach the boy across the street. Before he can reach him, a group of Malcolm’s high school tormenters show up and begin to harass the neighbor. Malcolm is in awe, as the new guy turns it back on them and makes them run from him.
Afterward, the boy approaches Malcolm and introduces himself as Wes. Malcolm is completely enamored by Wes and they quickly become friends. Through Wes, Malcolm does things he had never dreamed possible, including learning out to rebuild classic cars.
With the help of Wes, Malcolm starts to grow confident and see the hope at the end of the tunnel. Even to the point of beginning to recognize truths about himself that he had spent years suppressing.
Though parts of the book made me angry at times, I did enjoy it. The moments of anger had more to do with the abuse that Malcolm experienced as a result of his homophobic and racist parents. Outside of that, it is a wonderful romantic story. The two main characters don’t immediately crave each other physically. For Malcolm what he is seeking is a friend, as that is the one thing while growing up, he had never been able to obtain. That lack of friendship affected his self-worth.
Having someone like Wes show even the basic level of interest and kindness spoke to Malcolm as he was desperate for that type of relationship. When Malcolm comes out to himself and realizes who he is, it is an absolutely beautiful moment. Though it was strenuous watching him debate whether he should say anything to Wes about it. Malcolm knew Wes would eventually return to college.
Despite all the downs Malcolm goes through, and there are several including him worrying about his future, he does get a happy ending with someone who does care about him. Through Wes, he not only gains a boyfriend, but he gains a group of loving and supporting friends. If you need a story to bring up your mood and have joy despite adversity, then I would recommend giving this book a try.
Missy Welsh’s website
My Summer of Wes available on Amazon