Rating: Significant Shortcomings
Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: John Coy
After graduating from high school Cray feels like he is going to burst if he goes along with his family’s plan for his life: college, medical school, family doctor. Convinced that their son will go to college after seeing how hard the real world actually is, Cray's parents demand that he pays rent, forcing Cray to find a summer job. After a quirky girl named Rayne gets his attention (and simultaneously becomes his new crush), she helps him get a job working the night shift at a home for adults with high functioning disabilities. Cray's job, budding relationship with Rayne, and fight against his parents help him find the confidence he needs to step out into the world as his own person, leaving to travel Europe at the end of the summer.
Gap Life is a quick young adult read that tries to pack in many identifiable teenage themes such as high school graduation, summer relationships, summer jobs, arguments with parents, and the struggle to find an identity. While many of these themes are relatable, the actual content is contradictory and romanticized. Rather than becoming more independent, the main character just becomes more like the girl he is trying to build a relationship with. Even the climatic point of independence when he books a trip to Europe is overshadowed by the fact that he steals his mother’s credit card in order to pay for the ticket. The author tells a story of a rebellious and selfish teenager who doesn’t face any consequences rather than developing Cray into the classic coming-of-age storyline that draws so many readers in. Most of the character development surrounds the work with the disabled adults in the home, which is a unique and intriguing storyline.
*Contains moderate language and moderate sexual content.