Paul Yee's Money Boy
I've been reading a few young adult (YA) novels featuring gay protagonists of late because there have been a couple of readings and lectures in town on LGBT YA writing. I noted in a comment to an earlier post on this community that one thing I found interesting in this literature is the presence of some Asian American characters (both gay and straight) as secondary characters.
Paul Yee is a Chinese Canadian author with a few award-winning books under his belt. Money Boy centers on the protagonist Ray Liu, a teenaged immigrant from Beijing living with his father, stepmother, and stepbrother in a suburb of Toronto. The title refers to the Chinese term for young men who sleep with men for money (young men who sleep with women for money are apparently "ducks".... curious how often ducks are connected with sexuality as in the Spanish use of "pato" as a pejorative term for gay men).
As with other YA writing, this novel offers a very deliberate and guiding narrative voice. We follow along (in the present tense) with Ray's story as it unfolds. The story begins with Ray watching a movie based on Shakespeare with his Chinese immigrant classmates. There is a lot in the novel about the particular experiences of being a new immigrant as a teenager—issues of language and cultural divides that overlay the usual high school drama of cliques. He tells us about his obsession with a Chinese MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role playing game) Rebel State. And then his father finds that he has been visiting gay websites and kicks him out of the house. The bulk of the novel concerns Ray's journey into Toronto's gay subculture and the underworld of prostitution.