Giddy Up

If you've read Susan Juby's Alice McLeod trilogy (which I realize makes it sound vaguely sci-fi, but it's so totally not), you know the lady writes hilarious books. Alice is one of my favorite YA characters in recent years, if not Of All Time. The wacky outfits and ridiculous situations: love them. So I was kind of scared to read Another Kind of Cowboy. The vaguely dark masculine cover, the very serious subject of a closeted gay teenager. Would there be any LOL moments to savor?

Alex, the aforementioned gay teen, and Cleo, a spoiled richie from LA, meet in the world of dressage. (It's a very disciplined yet artful school of horse training, pronounced so the second syllable sounds like corsage—although throughout the book my head kept hearing the "age" part like you would say it in footage.) Cleo's movie producer parents have banished her to a fancy riding school on Vancouver Island, and Alex is a poor local cowboy who really wants to dance with his horse. Though their stories (Alex's, especially) are touching, SJ manages to sprinkle her magical humor throughout, thus preventing the book's permanent residence in Sapfest, CANADA. The only thing missing is the near-perfect character development of the Alice books; we don't get to know Cleo all that well, and Alex's chapters are told in the third person, so the reader never gets totally inside his head. Still, two hooves up! It's like Brokeback Mountain for kids, but with a happy ending.