elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Calico by Dorien Grey

To all account Calico by Dorien Grey can easily being classified as a Young Adult novel with a Coming of Age story. What sex, or better reference to sex, you will find in it is so light weighted and generic that for sure this is not an erotic romance but I will not arrive to say that it’s not a romance. If you are familiar with the western novels (a la Louis L'Amour style), you know that the love story in that novels, if existing, was not the main theme, and the fierce cowboy was mainly concentrated in reaching a target, whatever target it was; for this reason, the cowboy could be old, sometime even “grandfatherly”, taking care of the young kids in the plot like a substitute father or uncle. This is not the case of Calico, who is 27 years old; sure he is all the same stoic like those cowboys, and sure he takes care of 17 years old twin brother-and-sister Josh and Sarah, but he is not at all fatherly. First of all since, at 27 years old, he cannot be really the father of 17 years old boys and second since he more or less “silently” falls in love for Josh at first sight. And if you are thinking that he is taking advantage of an underage kid, first of all consider what I said above, no sex at all, and second it’s Josh that makes his moves on Calico, and Calico will be the perfect gentleman.

Of course, if the target of this novel is indeed a young adult reader, then maybe having an adult fall in love for an underage kid can be controversial; well, you need to consider that, more or less at the beginning of the story, the author explains that 17 years old in the Old West was not being a kid, but for the sake of the plot, the two twins had to be under guardianship; plus while 27 years old Calico has always lived his adult life in the Frontier, and so not really having much chances to be in contact with women, 17 years old Josh is from Chicago, a big city even at the time. So where someone could question Calico’s preferences for men (he has not really many choices), Josh is way more ahead in his sexual maturity; now I’m not saying he is experienced, far from it, I’m saying he seems to be more self-conscious.

There is really not many discussion on the “I prefer boys, do you?” theme, it’s more or less a mutual acknowledgment: Calico simply asks Josh if he has left a girlfriend behind and Josh says no, expressing little interest in girls, and replying with a “like you” to Calico; that is all, that is all they need to know about each other. To Josh’s not so hidden attempts, Calico kindly resists, not really until Josh is 18 years old, but more until they are both safe. Again, Calico’s acknowledgment that now he has no more reasons to refuse Josh is kind, and Josh is satisfied with the certainty that, once they will be safe, he will have the one he desires.

The story is more about the “travel”, the slowly but steadily building of trust between Calico and Josh, than about the target; the outside threat, and its removal, is important since it serves to give a reason to Calico and Josh to spend time together, but it could have been anything else, and for that reason I don’t think the author put much effort in making it dangerous or mysterious.


Amazon: Calico
Amazon Kindle: Calico
Paperback: 184 pages
Publisher: Zumaya Publications, LLC (October 2, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 193413533X
ISBN-13: 978-1934135334

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading%20list&view=elisa.rolle
Tags: author: dorien grey, genre: historical, length: novel, review, theme: coming of age, theme: cowboys

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