Audiobook Review: Sprout by Dale Peck

Sprout by Dale Peck

Title: Sprout
Author: Dale Peck
Published: May 26th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: YA Contemporary LGBTQI
Read By: Ted Coluca

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How many secrets can you hide in plain sight?

Sprout Bradford has a secret. It’s not what you think—he’ll tell you he’s gay. He’ll tell you about his dad’s drinking and his mother’s death. The green fingerprints everywhere tell you when he last dyed his hair. But neither the reader nor Sprout are prepared for what happens when Sprout suddenly finds he’s had a more profound effect on the lives around him than he ever thought possible. Sprout is both hilarious and gripping; a story of one boy at odds with the expected.

I am really conflicted about this book. I LOVED the first part. That all-consuming-must-have-more-please-don’t-let-it-ever-stop kind of love. I made three pages of notes. I was charmed by this green haired boy who, while smart as hell, wasn’t as annoying and stuck up as most of the really smart YA characters. Then I kept listening, and the second half of the story hit and the magic slowly started to bleed away. When the end came, I had been making frowny expressions long enough that my face hurt.

In fact, I am so disheartened by the last half of this story, I can’t even be arsed to type up those three pages of notes.

Daniel Bradford is not your average teen. Uprooted after his mom’s death and relocated from Long Island to Kansas, he now lives in a trailer with his alcoholic father. A trailer covered with vines and other vegetation, with uprooted tree stumps decorating the front yard. His first day in his new school, resident asshat bully with a secret, Ian Abernathy, takes one look at 12 year old Daniel and declares him gay. Which, granted, not inaccurate. That’s okay, though, Daniel makes a friend in Ruthie Wilcox, the girl determined to be a star. Daniel decides to start dyeing his hair green. His father explains it as the need to create an outward sign of how different Daniel feels inside. The green hair leads to him being nicknamed Sprout.

Up to this point the story is very engaging, if written in a sprawling, kind of disjointed fashion. It works. Then we meet Ty. It is suddenly all about Ty. Most everything else drops away as Sprout just stops caring. The really interesting secondary characters go for chapters without being mentioned, and when they are, everyone has turned into a upside down twisted version of themselves, acting completely unlike I expected them to.

I am frowning again. The magic that was the first part is the only thing that stops this story from being a 1 star to me.


Dale Peck (born 1967 on Long Island, New York) is an American novelist, critic, and columnist. His 2009 novel, Sprout, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award in the Children’s and Young Adult Literature category.

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