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Clay's Way

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  406 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Set against the dazzling backdrop of Hawaii's Oahu and Kauai islands, Clay's Way seethes with energy and hormonally charged nihilism. For 15-year-old Sam, a wanna-be punk rocker who writes bad haiku poetry, his middle-class suburban life feels like a prison. Mistaking lust for fate, Sam becomes obsessed with Clay, a 17-year-old surfer, outwardly cool but equally adrift. Th ...more
Paperback, 246 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Alyson Books (first published 2004)
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Clay's Way reads like a really long and bad haiku. Or a really long and bad acid trip. Or an overambitious and pretentious coming of age story about the contemporary gay teenager.

Sam and Clay are the loser kid and the cool kid, respectively. But they are two versions of the same persona. They're both gay, they both need to behave in a certain way. They are both struggling and they are both tragic figures. That much is obvious.

But even though the premise was interesting, and the endeavour challe
Kealii Ballao
May 04, 2010 Kealii Ballao rated it did not like it
Clay's Way is author Blair Mastbaum's first novel. The novel centers around the emotionally confusing Sam. He is a rebellious boy living in Hawaii where he feel that he does not fit in because everyone is a surfer or Hawaii. Sam himself is self-deprecating in his looks and his family. He falls in love with a self-unaware surfer guy, the very type of guy that Sam hates, and the story is then centered around their one-sided love affair.

Mastbaum tries to introduce some local dialects which I find c
Caleb Blake
Oct 22, 2012 Caleb Blake rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
Cross-posted from Papyrus Independent Author Reviews. (

Growing up on Hawaii's Oahu island, Sam uses his appearance as a rebellion against who he's expected to be. But he has deeper differences irreconcilable with the community in which he lives. And then there's Clay...

Clay's Way is a gay coming-of-age tale focusing on a rebellious sixteen year-old skater who is dealing not just with growing up gay in a predominately straight
Blake Fraina
Feb 21, 2010 Blake Fraina rated it liked it
This terrific debut novel turns the typical teenage coming out story on its ear by portraying its sixteen year old narrator, Sam, as completely self-loathing in every respect except with regard to his sexuality (which he treats with extreme matter-of-factness). In many ways he is the typical rebellious teen, he hates his folks, his life, his appearance & is forever trying on different looks and identities in an awkward effort to express his individuality, but as the book follows his falterin ...more
Oct 30, 2012 Craig rated it liked it
I started out really liking this book. Set in Hawaii, 16 year old Sam falls for popular surfer, Clay. This is not a coming out story or even a romance. It's more about how Sam is driven crazy by such intense desire for Clay and how Clay ends up being so screwed up under his cool exterior.

I had trouble getting into the second half of the book. It kind of falls apart for me as Sam, who is madly in love with Clay, ends up doing things that, knowingly, would push Clay away. And Clay really goes off
Jul 14, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing
The back of the book says "A gay Catcher in the Rye". That a pretty good description. Unlike a lot of other gay fiction, the main character doesn't make a big deal about being gay. It's just another summer day in Hawaii. I thought it was a great book to read for leisure. The words on the pages flow as easily as the character's thought and feelings. The book is full of realism (or should I say Nihilism?), and the ending still makes me think hard. I highly recommend it.
Feb 04, 2012 Oliver rated it liked it
it started off really good but then once they went out on their hiking hippy trip, they all went nuts. like it was a different story. and when sam comes back, he's a complete crazy freak.
Nov 27, 2007 Red rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gay men, gay teens, any boy that has been in love with a straight guy
I really enjoyed this tale of the tortured gay soul.
Robert Hyers
Dec 29, 2007 Robert Hyers rated it really liked it
An interesting work within the coming out genre with some solid use of metaphor; a good start; I'm excited to see what else this author will come out with.
Dec 21, 2013 Aitziber rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: masochists
Recommended to Aitziber by: Amazon
For much of Clay's Way, I wondered just what in the world I was reading. John Rechy, a highly lauded writer, is quoted in the backcover as saying, "A gay Catcher in the Rye." Certainly, it's not hard to picture readers ranking Holden and Sam as equally annoying, teenaged main characters. However, Salinger is an amazing writer and Mastbaum is not.

Blair Mastbaum was trying very hard to infuse his novel with some meaning. And so I can't tell if the utterly trite metaphors and similes employed are
Jul 20, 2009 Tindra rated it liked it
"Clay's Way" gets three stars, but it barely missed getting just two. It's a good book, well written and with thought behind it, I just didn't like it. Too much teenage selfcenterdness, too much weirdness and too much suicidale contemplation. The end was heartbreaking without any hopeful outlook on the future that is usual. I did like the overwelming boy's perspective, the culture environment and the angsty teenage lifes. I love the rebelious nature of Sam (even if he can be somewhat of a poser) ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
Set on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, fifteen coming on sixteen year old skate boarding punk Sam, (punk to the extent that he likes dyeing his hair exotic colours), a compulsive haiku writer, becomes infatuated with the handsome eighteen year old surf boy Clay Anderson, whom he meets in the local skate board shop. Much to his surprise his feelings are reciprocated, and he and Clay begin enjoying each others company. However the relationship that ensues, while having its tender and fulfilling momen ...more
Sep 27, 2009 Holyfool rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teens
Recommended to Holyfool by: don't recall
It is a unique setting to encounter ordinary teen age surfers that they start to intertwined with each other
with out a base for it but just a nature impulse to touch their unknown feelings.

Not a contrived argument or blue prints of their situation. Their curiosity was obvious and you get to relate to these at some levels. There are some harsh part in this books, but not a surprise when it comes from teens' own limited thinking and obscure dilemmas.

This book is odd and some parts just cold. The
Jul 08, 2011 Mitch rated it liked it
"Clay's Way" by Blair Mastbaum has been called the gay "Catcher in the Rye". Although I see the comparisons and actually liked "Clay's Way" better, I still feel like this story was a bit too contrived. It was too far out for me, way unbelievable. The first part could totally happen...soon crazy events start to pile up which left me thinking "uh...yeah right".

In this book we travel to the beautiful islands of Hawaii where gay teenage skateboard rebel sam falls for the hunky and confused surfer, C
Feb 04, 2016 Salsabrarian added it
Shelves: ya, hawaii, glbt
In this emotional, raw, and sexual novel, 16-year-old Sam falls hard in love and lust with Clay who works at a surf and skate shop. Clay proves maddeningly elusive and Sam drives himself crazy wanting to have sex with Clay and hear Clay say "I love you." Clay has issues of his own: he's constantly bouncing off the walls emotionally and is in denial or confusion about his own sexuality. He's indifferent to his girlfriend Tammy and plays mind games with Sam. Sam goes through an emotional wringer f ...more
The book started out strong but faded at the end. It started wondering down an odd path and never really recovered. The book has a resolution to the relationship and has a gentle ending.

There were multiple distracting typos toward the end, which made me feel like someone was on a deadline! I found the writing style interesting, but by the end of the book it got more dramatic and fragmented. The mixing of random thoughts at the beginning was well done but became frantic by the end of the book.

Jan 29, 2015 Lester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a love and hate feeling for this book.

I won't over the story of it, many reviews will tell more about it.

I feel the book took me on a acid trip, sometimes high and sometimes low with no middle point. And you wake up the next morning, confused and with a headache trying to remember if it was a good trip, the one that gives you a happy feeling and warmth, or bad trip, the one who makes you feel depressed and sad, without really being able to answer the question.

I guess my morning memory
David Kealii
While I liked this book, I remain conflicted about how it depicted Hawai`i and in particular Kailua (town my family is from) and the people. Although, it may show more of the underlying dissatisfaction with "paradise" that so many Native Hawaiians, locals and others have.

This was one of those books were none of the characters is entirely likable. Having said that, the novel may warrant a re-read just to be sure.
Scott Coffey
Feb 16, 2016 Scott Coffey rated it it was amazing
Clay's Way is so vital and alive. It's for sure one of the best coming of age books I've ever read. If not the best. You know how some books get in your head and change the way you think while you're reading them? This book does that and feels like it opens up the world to you long after you've stopped reading.
Clay's Way is very sexy and funny but also totally heartbreaking and haunting.
I love these characters to much and I didn't want the book to end.
Jan 09, 2012 William rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book--which has good things to say about teenage obsession, insecurity, lust and in fact explores all of these in a setting that hasn't been featured often: the surfpunk culture of Hawaii. But the book was so poorly edited in places, in terms of the author not having been reined in in sections, when he was allowed to go on way too long in very repetitive sections. A tighter, briefer novel would have been more effective.
May 30, 2013 P. rated it liked it
it ends up being another story where the gay kid is punished for being gay, and it's too bad b/c it starts out strong. I admire the way mastbaum captures a kind of teenage aching bravado and puts me into the mindset where I can see how gross parties in filthy apartments have a really powerful appeal. And I liked how I didn't like Sam but he also seemed real. Clay wasn't so realistic, however.

(Rebecca, I think you should read this & we should have a conversation about it!)
Feb 20, 2013 Max rated it really liked it
I actually really enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was sort of different than your usual story and the writing style, and the tone of the character sort of drew me in. I quite liked how it was set in Hawaii, and that it was centered around a gay skater boy. That lure me in the first place! Very good read, I recommend it honestly.
Jan 17, 2008 Skip rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-fiction
An interesting fictional bildungsroman about a teenage Hawaiian skatepunk coming to terms with his increasing attraction to guys, how he explores that attraction with an older seemingly-straight surfer guy, and what eventually happens in both of their lives. File under learning lessons in maturity through experience.
Apr 25, 2009 J.M. rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. It's advertised in all the magazines I read and touted as the best new voice in gay fiction. But I just couldn't get into it. The main characters seems too spastic to me, too out of control, and the resulting conflict between them left me too frustrated to finish the book.
Jun 30, 2014 Snoodle rated it did not like it
Shelves: drugs, annoying-mc
DNF at 39%. Basically Sam is a massive tool, obnoxious to everyone around him & exhibits crazy stalker tendancies (view spoiler) As a former skater chick from the 90s I did like the NOFX mention...
David Shuler
Aug 29, 2016 David Shuler rated it liked it
The book started out smooth and then went off into left field. I could picture the rebellious teenager that was Sam, longing for the rogue carefree Clay. The book took more twists and turns. I wasn't sure I would finish it.
Dec 29, 2012 Matty rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbqt, 2010, favorites
This is one of my very favourites, and I've read it several times. It's about a skater who falls for a surfer, and their totally screwed up attempt at a relationship. It sounds corny but I really love it.
John Garcia
Sep 12, 2013 John Garcia rated it liked it
A friend introduced me to this book.
Sep 29, 2011 Yaklow rated it it was amazing
Even when it gets confusing the authentic voice carries you through.
Sep 09, 2010 N.S. rated it liked it
This was a really interesting look into the mind of an immature, insecure, tough gay kid.
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Blair is the author of Clay's Way and Us Ones In Between, and the co-editor of Cool Thing: Best Gay Fiction from Young American Writers. He's currently living in Portland, Oregon and working on a novel called Hommeboys about his time spent as a model.
More about Blair Mastbaum...

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“A sub-division’s predictable patterns, rigid lines, and ordered structure might feel calming. Normally, they feel segregating and stifling, but for once, I’m scared of this infinite disorder and I’m afraid I might get lost in this place where anything is possible.” 0 likes
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