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America's Boy

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  431 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks in the 60s and 70s, Wade Rouse was always a bit of an outsider. While some of his roughneck peers wore Wrangler jeans and had stylish crew cuts, Wade feathered his golden hair and sported a handmade leatherwork belt bearing his unfortunate childhood nickname, Wee-Pooh. Taunted by his classmates, Wade finds comfort in his offbeat but lovabl ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Plume (first published April 6th 2006)
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K.D. Absolutely
Another boy memoir but this time, the author is about my age (he was born in 1965, so I am just a year older than him). I bought this book last week in a sale at Powerbooks Megamall. Tata J gave me the book THE INVISIBLE WALL by Henry Bernstein with high recommendations as he knows I liked ANGELA'S ASHES by the late Frank McCourt. When I saw the cover of this book with the word "A Memoir" so I put it in my basket together with another boy memoir on WWII, a book about Shiloh sisters, and a couple ...more
Mar 27, 2009 Sara rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of coming-of-age, coming to terms with being gay/adolescence time-period books and memoirs, and I have to say this is by far my absolute favorite. This isn't a book just for gay people; this is simply a great book - period. It has some heartbreaking moments, and Wade's childhood certainly had some very low points. And like anyone else that's gay, it engenders that struggle that we all face. But it is a portrait of humanity more than anything else, and it is a novel we can all rel ...more
Heidi The Hippie Reader
I really enjoyed this memoir about family and the struggles of coming out of the closet. I'm starting to like reading Rouse even more than Sedaris. They both have poignant moments and surprising humor, but I feel like Rouse lets the reader get close to him. As you read, you feel like you were really there- not just observing or watching the film in your mind. There are heart breaking moments and soul expanding memories. I recommend this for people who enjoy Dave Sedaris (similar authors but with ...more
I absolutely loved reading this memoir. Wade Rouse mixes humor, honesty, intelligence and compassion to look back on his life, growing up as a loner and a young man who used food to dull any sadness in his life. A sensitive and keen observer he describes growing up in the Ozarks knowing he "was different" but never admitting he was gay til much later. In the memories that make up his life he describes his family and how the loss of his brother changed them all. I thought this book was amazing an ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was hilarious! this author is so funny, it made me want to read everyting he ever wrote.
Nov 11, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't sure at the outset that I'd be able to get into this book - I was wrong! Sure, there are several less-than-happy moments, but almost no self pity. Defintely recommended.
Jan 27, 2011 Teddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wade Rouse is one of the best and funniest writers America has these days. He is very relatable. And when you get done with his book you feel like you know his whole family.
Patsy Parker
Oct 13, 2016 Patsy Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is st sexual identity or accepting others who are gay, bi-sexual, lesbian or transgender.
Shelves: autobiographies
This is one of the most honest memoirs I have ever read. It is a story of a boy who grows up knowing he loves boys, not girls, wants boyfriends, not girlfriends, but is desperately afraid for anyone to find out about his true self.

As he is growing up, however, it seems that his brother knows he is gay, but never really comes out and acknowledges it in a healthy way. He calls him a "fag" or "faggot" frequently, but still loves him which Wade doesn't really come to understand until years after hi
Dec 26, 2012 Theresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(truncated version of my original thoughts)

This book makes me feel how maybe my (and other peoples’) blogs perhaps make the rest of the world feel. By that I mean that it was probably very therapeutic for the writer to write it. The writer probably thinks, at least on some level, that what happened to him is interesting for the masses to know. The writer probably believes that his story is different than those of the masses.

But is it? (And while we’re at it, Is mine?)…bygones. It’s a memoir abou
Oct 06, 2011 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Wade Rouse's debut book, which is part a tribute to his parents and grandparents and part the difficulty of of being different. Rouse knew he was gay from a young age, but when his older brother, the all-boy/hunter/fisherman of the family, died when Rouse was a teen, his life changed dramatically as he tried to fit into his brother's shoes, to some degree. The book is told in three parts, loosely. Before Todd dies, after Todd dies and then when he is about 30 and struggling to come to terms with ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it difficult to rate this book. On some levels, I liked it. It has its funny and tender moments. He does a good job of describing characters and events, although sometimes they seemed a bit embellished. I teared up when he describes his mother's experience of his brother's death. Most of it is relatable. This book was recommended to me recently as I was looking for more understanding of people who grow up gay. Having known a few folks who are gay, this book did not fit with my experience ...more
Nicholas Husbye
The story of an over-weight effeminate boy growing up in the south, Wade Rouse uses his family's cabin to loosely excavate the memories and emotions around the death of his older brother. The stories that make up America's Boy are somewhat disjointed, bouncing between too many stories with divergent paths - very few of them lead to what the reader is to believe is the crux of the story. Rather than a story about loss, this book would have been much better as a story of Wade coming into his own a ...more
This coming-out story set in the Ozarks is quite well written, but a bit disturbing--unintentionally, I think. The author had a very hard childhood because he was "different," and one way he coped was by eating a lot. He gained a lot of weight and was a fat youth and young adult until he came out and started going to gyms and working out a lot. I was disturbed by a lot of the self-hating, anti-fat talk. Sometimes it felt as if the author still hated himself and his body, even when he was talking ...more
May 08, 2011 Peebee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I were a gay man who grew up at the opposite corner of Missouri (SW instead of NE), I could have written this book. Wade is only two years older than me, and our childhood experiences were fairly similar. While Wade talks about his family, they're just like most of the families I knew growing up. He talks about his grandparents as "good people," and I was raised by the same kind of good people:

They valued and loved their family, treated others with respect, lived their faith and didn't simply
Aug 24, 2008 Christina rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: gay men
Shelves: book_club
We read this for Book Club, and I was one of the few who didn't like it. It's the memoir of a gay man growing up in the Ozarks, mentioning every family member in his life and his transition from boy-hood to adulthood.

I found it shallow, insincere, and a bit whiney. The climax of coming out to his family and magically becoming "okay" with himself and his sexuality was a bit abrupt, with too little discussion. I found the narrative a bit halting for such an overdone topic. I expected something di
Feb 24, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wade Rouse's slightly better than average memoir elucidates snippets from his life growing up fat and gay in the Missouri Ozarks. He lives in an exceedingly rural community with an overwhelmingly close but loving family and therefore spends most of his life pretending he is not gay (although, as he states several times, it's quite all right to be fat). Most of the stories are humorous, such as when Wade dresses up in his mother's bikini and crowns himself "Miss Sugar Creek," and others are heart ...more
Beth Lind
May 29, 2013 Beth Lind rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh yeah. Wade Rouse sounds like someone I could be good friends with after reading the honest details in his memoir. He just sounds smart, funny and compassionate. Growing up in South Georgia, I watched many of the same struggles with my own brother as he wrestled with his sexuality. And just like Wade, I learned about hate from children and churches. The grief the family struggled with after Wade's brother died is emotional and so perfectly described.

Lots of emotions. Some of the kid stories s
Dianna Stampfler
I was introduced to this book a few months after it was released - a recommendation from a librarian friend. I couldn't put it down. It was fun and honest, a truthful look inside a young boy coming of age and coming into himself. A writer myself, I was drawn into the story and when I was done I went in search of Wade online. Turned out we lived in the same county in Michigan! Within the year, I had the pleasure of meeting Wade (through this mutual librarian friend) and so began my love affair wi ...more
Aug 19, 2010 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. I wanted to slap this guy. He's just annoying. His account of a "hard childhood" is really just him being whiny and prissy, and his family accomodating that. If you can't (rather, won't) wipe your own tuchus by age 13, and your family does it for you, then I don't even know where to begin. I kept waiting for him to show some sign of a decent personality, but it never happened. He treated everyone like garbage and didn't stop lying and using people. I thought maybe he'd be more honest after ...more
Sep 03, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is a 5, the writing is a 3.5. It starts a little stilted, but as you get closer to the end of the book, you begin to realize that there is no way that Rouse could have smoothed over the early stories. The dedication of his family is touching and crucial to who he is and, in part, why he avoids who he is for a long time. There are many stories like Rouse's, but most don't end as happily. He knows it and he knows we know. The sense of obligation to tell the story of survival is ever pres ...more
Cari D
Aug 23, 2015 Cari D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first autobiography I've read about being gay. I have always approached the subject as live & let live and have honestly given very little thought to the subject. Wade Rouse is a brave & talented writer who has really opened my eyes. I will probably look at my acquaintances & family who are gay a little bit differently now, but it will be with just a bit more sympathy for their struggles.
Apr 11, 2009 Willo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How very hard it is for a gay person to come out and how important it is to have a loving, caring family that supports you under any circumstances. I loved his honesty and his great sense of humor. A great read especially for families that are trying to understand their gay child and for gay children trying to find acceptancein a society that still has a lot to learn about homosexuality.
Apr 28, 2010 Duane rated it liked it
As a coming-of-age book, this one is a good one. Wade grew up in the Ozarks and hid his pain with food. The chapters are real and very honest. Each family member is wonderfully introduced and capture the reader's imagination. Wade struggles with his gayness and losing a brother and has to survive some very odd relatives he spends time with. Not a "light' read, but dark and gritty.
Oct 02, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Have waited to long to do the review though! By the time I was done reading this book I loved Wade, just as much as his friends and family do in the book. If you're homophobic I wouldn't read this though, it gets pretty raunchy. But if you can handle that, it is a must read. It's all about a small town family's constant love.
Jul 15, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. The author describes what he went through growing up as an overweight, gay boy in small-town America during the 60's & 70's. Even after moving away and losing all the weight, he still struggled with who he was and how others perceived him. A very honest and heartfelt story.
Oct 18, 2007 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had my eye out for this since I read Rouse's other memoir. This one covers some of the same ground, but starts much earlier in his life. His voice rings true. His family is interesting and flawed. The tragic & untimely death of Rouse's brother is a crucible for all the surviving family members. Worth a read, if memoirs are your thing.
Ryan James
Jul 08, 2013 Ryan James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wade-rouse
It takes a great deal for a book to make me laugh out loud. This book did it. Except for the fact that he grew up in rural America, in many ways our lives were similar. That said, I belched out laughter at the most inappropriate times, but cared less. I loved this book. Generally, I don't read much gay lit, but this one along with David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs are great.
Tracie La Rue Moen
I love Wade. And since I have gotten to know him (attended his writing workshop), as I reread this book I am saddened picturing him go through this. But I love his humor and definitely recommend this book.
oh poor David Sedaris wanna be. Sorry, your writing isn't that good. and you are even more egotistical then Sedaris (which I didn't even know was possible!). David is still my number one favorite gay writer.
Denise Keliuotis
An absolutely beautiful book. Honest, humorous, and heartbreaking -- a combo only a truly talented writer can pull off. Wade's story warned my heart and soul and gave me a true glimpse of the challenges of being different in this world. Love this book.
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In this memoir showcasing the ugly side of the affluent mothers of the pseudonymous Tate Academy, among the country's most prestigious prep schools, Rouse, the school's director of public relations, explains that his job is that of the Mommy Handler-keeping the families and benefactors of the institution happy. In particular, he works closely with a woman he calls Kitsy, the head of the parent and ...more
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