It’s 1986, and Nate Bradford is entering his senior year of high school, only to learn his parents are divorcing and he is being forced to move with his dad to a small town in Wyoming. Back in Texas, Nate was on the swim and tennis teams, went to a big school, and hung out at the malls and movies with his friends. However Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833, is a dying town with no jobs and nothing to do. Nate doesn’t fit in, not with the cowboys or the Mormons, and not even with the other kids in his wealthier neighborhood. The only person that Nate connects with is Cody Lawrence.
Everyone tells Nate to stay away from Cody, that he is trailer trash and bad news. Cody is incredibly poor and he and his mom are struggling just to survive in their rundown trailer. Cody doesn’t fit in anywhere either, but he is a good guy and he and Nate have a connection that gives Nate a glimmer of happiness in this miserable town.
Soon Nate realizes that his feelings for Cody go deeper than just friendship, but the idea terrifies him. Being gay in the height of the AIDS crisis is bad enough, but being gay in a small town like Warren is just impossible. Nate and Cody dream of a future where they can be together, but they have both learned that Warren is a place where dreams die. As the two young men fall deeper in love, they must work to find a way to make it out of Warren and to a future where they can be together.
OMG, so good you guys. Really, I had no idea what to expect from this story and it just drew me and grabbed my heart right from the first pages. It is a fairly long novel and I could barely put it down. From the very start I was just so engaged with Cody and Nate’s story, and though it does put you through the wringer, I finished it with my heart happy and full. There is really so much here to love, but I’m going to focus on three highlights here in my review: the depiction of small town life, the wonderful way Sexton captures the time period, and the fabulous young love story.
Warren is a dying town where jobs have dried up and half the houses are vacant. There is nothing there, and certainly nothing for teens to do that keeps them out of trouble. There are no malls, no movies, few restaurants, and little to connect the town to the outside world. It is too far from any cities for easy travel, and even if it wasn’t, most people there don’t have the money to spend anyway. This is the days before the internet, before streaming music and movies, before Skyping, and before the world can be at your fingertips if you can afford a computer. The story gives us an interesting perspective as we see the town both though Nate’s eyes as a newcomer, and through Cody’s as someone who has lived there his whole life and can’t imagine ever making it out. Nate hits culture shock as soon as he gets to this town and realizes that there is just nothing here, certainly nothing like the life he left behind in Texas. He has no place to fit in with the small school and their rigid social groups. He doesn’t even fit in with the richer kids who welcome him, as their primary pastimes seem to be sex and drugs. Cody has lived in Warren forever and he is just so run down from the place. He and his mom are barely making ends meet, he lives in a shitty trailer, and he knows he has no future there, but also no opportunity for anything else. He is a good kid, but he is fighting such an uphill battle. Sexton really makes this little town come alive, and and we can feel the bleakness and despair. It is an interesting contrast to so many romance novels that idealize the small town and here we see the other side of this environment.
The story is set in the late 1980s and Sexton does an amazing job immersing us in that time period. This isn’t too far off from my high school days, and Sexton gets everything just right, from the clothes, to the music, to the TV shows, to the political climate. It is all the little details that just add together to make the time period come alive so well. In particular, this story captures the growing awareness and understanding of AIDS, and especially the full blown panic as the epidemic spreads. No one fully understands what is causing it, but the knowledge that it is spreading through gay men makes the prejudice and fear against Cody and Nate even stronger. We see the boys trying to learn more about it, to understand their risks, and search for a place that might be a refuge for them if they can ever get out of Warren. This story just feels so perfectly immersed in the time period and Sexton does a wonderful job with it.
I am huge fan of young love stories, and this one is just fabulous. Nate and Cody are so sweet and full of love for one another, but also full of fear. Cody has been hurt so many times; he is rejected and even hated by most of the other kids and he doesn’t dare to dream about more with Nate. And Nate must deal with his growing feelings for Cody and for the unexpected realization that he is gay. Being together isn’t easy, but there is just such an intense connection between these guys that you can’t help but root for them to make it. They dream of a future together, but making it happen seems like such a challenge. The story is just so heart warming and romantic and your heart will break for them at times, but it is so worth it.
So I absolutely loved everything about this story. I could go on and on, but hopefully this gives you a taste of what makes Trailer Trash so wonderful. It isn’t always easy to read as these guys go through some rough times. But the story is so rewarding, so satisfying at the end that it is worth any bit of heartache along the way. I totally loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone.