This young adult novel is set in the future, where 16-year-old Duncan is thrilled that a gay Jewish man, Abe Stein, has been elected president of the United States. In this groundbreaking book, the first about a gay Jewish teen, the author explores Duncan’s relationship with his boyfriend, Jimmy (including describing them enjoying sex) and his feelings about Judaism. Duncan says that he believes in “the lineage of being Jewish: lighting Shabbat candles, celebrating Rosh Hashanah, fasting on Yom Kippur”…but he isn’t sure about God and faith. Later he explains Passover to a 13-year-old boy he meets, who has adopted Judaism despite his parents’ strenuous objections.
When the governor of the state of Kansas contests the election’s outcome, Duncan, Jimmy and their friends (including some lesbian girls) take a bus to Kansas to help Stein against those trying to disqualify him. Duncan’s world is populated with people called “The Decents,” who dislike Duncan and Jimmy because they are a mixed Jewish- black homosexual couple, labeling them and their actions as “Indecent.”
The author weaves in his feelings about politics, as he talks about the advances the world has made since “the Greater Depression” which was caused by debt, deficit and fuel depression, the “Reign of Fear” after 9/11, and the progress made in securing rights for women, gays and lesbians. He works in his feelings against the war in Iraq by giving Duncan a bitter, unfair teacher who was an “Iraq Re-enactor.” Levithan also introduces a clever concept, where teens go shopping at the “unmall” and select something to buy (cool jeans, etc.) but instead donate the purchase amount they would have spent to a charity they choose. This book will engage those young adults interested in politics, relationships, religion and their place in the world. For ages 16 and up, due to mature themes.