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The Arizona Kid

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  251 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
A trip out West to work at a racetrack — and a sojourn with a sophisticated gay uncle — bring unexpected discoveries in this quick-witted coming-of-age novel by the author of STONER & SPAZ and MARGAUX WITH AN X.

I was in the West. The Old West. The Wild West! A whole summer in a new place: a place away from my parents, a place so hot the girls probably wore bikinis to c
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by Candlewick Press
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50th out of 69 books — 153 voters
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65th out of 113 books — 121 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 764)
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Dec 03, 2010 karen rated it really liked it
i was all braced to not like this one. it was for the humor section of the reading list, and surely my sense of humor is more refined and nuanced than a teenager's, right. RIGHT?? i just figured it would be silly and not really a stick-to-your-cranium kind of book.

but this is dr. chelton and this book:

so i had to read it. how else am i going to grow up to be her? (and i was the only one in the whole class to choose to read it. i should give lessons in smooching up to teacher, because it is just
Dec 20, 2007 Jennie rated it it was amazing
Inevitably older YA books date themselves with silly colloquialisms; otherwise this book is extremely amusing and touches on many issues of teenage life in an honest way. I appreciated the realism of Cara and Billy’s sexual relationship. Also Billy’s unease about Wes’ sexuality and his evolving perspective of his uncle is heartfelt and well written. Safe sex, AIDS, and homosexuality are examined in this book in a realistic and sensible way. Also Wes is completely honest with Billy when giving ad ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it
Recommends it for: younger YA readers...and gay uncles everywhere
Shelves: ya, lgbt-etc
I just really like Ron Koetge and I can’t for the life of you say why. I think it’s something to do with the fact that he is a straight man who write gay characters. And also maybe something to do with the way he doesn’t shy away from sex and he doesn’t try to make it all edgy and exciting. It’s matter of fact while also being genuine. I think he treats his characters with respect and, therefore, treats his young(er) readers with respect.

Anyway, this was classic Koetge, circa 1988. I think it sa
Charming coming of age story about a young guy who spends the summer in Arizona with his gay uncle and the denizens of a seedy run down race track where he's got a summer job.

In many ways this is a typical story of the teen virgin and the summer he finally gets laid and still it's well worth the time that it took to read it. The characters are likeable and real. The dialogue is cheeky and funny and the situations ring true.

I first went to the track with my father when I was less than 10 and ha
Rebecca McNutt
This book was okay, but rather choppy and unoriginal for the most part, and the main character was incredibly annoying.
Jacob C
Jan 21, 2016 Jacob C rated it it was amazing
“The Arizona Kid” by Ron Koertge is about a boy, Billy a normal teenager. He wants to fit in with the wild west type atmosphere cowboy boots, tan and hat. While visiting his uncle Wes for the whole summer, without his parents. Billy gets a job at a horse race track where he meets Cara Mae the first girl he has a real connection with as friends and even more. As the summer goes on he also becomes friends with Lew who also works at the track. By the end of the book he is over his head when he mak ...more
Oct 14, 2007 elissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: YA fiction fans
An older title that you don't see around much anymore, but I'm sure it still holds up well. An issue novel (the main character's uncle is gay) and a sweet love story from the boy's POV. This was one of the first new novels that I read as a new YA librarian in the 90's, and I loved it. An old favorite booktalk, but I haven't used it in a long time.
Oct 12, 2011 7rg3869 is currently reading it
i dont think this book is interesting. I dont find it interesting because theres nothing fun it talks about. im not saying is bad but im not saing is really good . i tink is just not my type of book i would be interested on . But those who like cowboy things then i recommend this for you .
Kristal Cooper
Jun 28, 2014 Kristal Cooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coming-of-age story about a 16 year-old boy who's spending a summer away from home, working at a horse track in Tucson. Subjects appropriate for the age are discussed openly and often, including: body image, first love, losing your virginity, masturbation, homosexuality and AIDS, drinking and drugs, first job and first car, etc. I'm going to recommend it to my friends who have tween boys with the caution that they should read it first and decide if they're ready for their child to be thinking ...more
May 21, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-guy-or-girl
Don't be fooled by the stiff, slow opening chapter. The Arizona Kid speeds up and warms up quickly. I have to wonder if the opening style is calculated, because the main character's personality follows the style of the book. Beware as you read, because the book takes an honest, unexpected, and humorous approach to sex, homosexuality, and survivalists. If you're dead set against the first two, or one of the third, this isn't the book for you.
The main character is eminently embraceable - he's the
Katlynn Whitaker
Dec 29, 2012 Katlynn Whitaker rated it it was ok
I had to read this book for my banned/challenged books project, and overall thought it wasn't a bad read. It wasn't life changing or amazing in any way, but it wasn't horrible either. I liked seeing Billy's transformation from the beginning to the end and the new experiences he encounters. The ending was very predictable, however, and I thought Koertge left a lot of problems hanging. As for the subject matter, I could see why the book has been challenged. I thought it was fine for kids high scho ...more
Aug 01, 2011 Alarra rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, gblt
I picked this up at the library because I remembered reading the first few pages while waiting in line to see Neil Gaiman a while back and I wanted to know what happened. A sweet, coming-of-age, teen romance with a sympathetic teen boy protagonist, and a pretty awesome female love interest who happens to be a really determined, talented rodeo rider. And I liked that the protagonists' mentor in this case was his gay uncle, who's fleshed out as a character in the interactions he has with his nephe ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
When I received this copy from the library, its looks turned me off and I almost returned it unread. GASP! Then I realized a librarian judging a book by its cover is heresy. I'm so glad I read it. I enjoyed the relationships among the characters and the maturation of the main characters. An enjoyable read, so don't let the artwork on the paperback's cover make you shy away.
Jan 22, 2013 Debs rated it liked it
I feel as though Koertge couldn't really decide what story he wanted to tell/what issues he really wanted to address, and so he wrote an adequate novel that hop-scotched between a number of large ideas without really addressing any of them at length. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's a perfectly fine book, and it's possible that I'm judging a YA novel too harshly.
Apr 10, 2016 Raquel rated it really liked it
Fun book, I read it for my banned books project. There was no information on WHY it was banned >.< but it was so obvious once I read it.

I actually made contact with the author, and he sent me a handwritten postcard. That was so cool (:

P.S. I read this in seventh grade, and I reread it last week.
May 07, 2008 David rated it really liked it
Excellent young adult read. Young adult needs to be old enough to read about sex and drugs, but the sex and drugs are handled in a realistic but beneficial manner - if you know what i mean. A 16 year old would enjoy the story and be better off for having read it.
Joey Diamond
Argh, YA book that is teaching acceptance of gay uncles by showing kids that being a fag is all about trying desperately to not get AIDS. Nice one.
I did enjoy all the talk of cowboy boots and denim shirts with snaps. And the teen sex, duh.
Jul 22, 2012 Caitlinleah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
not actually a lesbian book, but a gay uncle book. one of the best stories of what most people's actual experience with homosexuality is like. a wonderful story with excellent characters. of course, i love ron koertge every time.
Apr 16, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I really liked this. The characters were great and the writing was simple and pure. I think Koertge is a fantastic author. I can see some of the controversy regarding this but I think there are much worse things out there.
Dec 31, 2011 Dina rated it it was amazing
Excellent no-nonsense book about sexual health and first time encounters.
Apr 25, 2009 Erin marked it as to-read
#80 on the ALA Banned Book list- I suspect because of the gay uncle...
Mar 07, 2011 Emma rated it it was amazing
This book is one of my favorites and I recommend it to all.
Shawn Thrasher
Oct 22, 2013 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
Good read!
IAmWe marked it as to-read
Jun 19, 2016
Karina Garcia
Karina Garcia rated it it was ok
Jun 19, 2016
Fantus marked it as to-read
Jun 17, 2016
Sidney Schwarz
Sidney Schwarz marked it as to-read
Jun 10, 2016
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Maddie V marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2016
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May 31, 2016
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Ask Ron Koertge what he brings to the realm of young adult fiction, and the seasoned author responds matter-of-factly. "I write dialogue well, and I'm funny," he says--an assessment few would argue with. "I like iconoclasm and practice it in my fiction. I don't like pretense or hypocrisy. I'm almost always irreverent."

A faculty member for more than 35 years at Pasadena City College, where he has
More about Ron Koertge...

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