It's embarrassing enough that Carlos Amoroso is fifteen and the only virgin among his friends, but he's never even really kissed a girl. The object of Carlos's desire, Roxy Rodriguez, is popular and hot--and has no idea that Carlos is alive. But watching a TV show one night gives Carlos an idea: What if he got a makeover from Sal, the guy at school everyone thinks is gay? Asking Sal to do him a favor is harder than it seems, because Carlos is worried that if any of his friends see him with Sal, they'll think that he's gay too.
In return for making Carlos over, Sal wants help starting a Gay-Straight Alliance at their school--not exactly something Carlos is dying to do. In this humorous novel about first love, Lambda Award winner Alex Sanchez again brings honesty and insight to the trials of growing up.
From Getting It: Carlos clicked on Queer Eye, a show where five gay dudes gave some grungy straight guy a makeover--plucking his nose hairs, redecorating his apartment, and teaching him to bake a quiche--so he could confidently propose marriage to his girlfriend and she'd tell him "yes." Which, of course, she did. On TV the guy always gets the girl.
As Carlos watched, he recalled Sal, the supposedly gay guy at school. It was then that the idea first popped into his brain: If Sal truly were queer...could he possibly help Carlos?... Not to propose to Roxy, of course--at least not yet--but to get her to maybe like him?
Honors and Awards:
Winner, Myers Outstanding Book Award 2007
International Latino Book Awards, 2nd place, Best Young Adult Fiction in English, 2007
New York Public Library 2007 "Book for the Teen Age"
Book-of-the-Month Club InsightOutBooks.com Main Selection
Read the praise (warning: reviews contain "spoilers"):
Booklist (starred review): "In this nod to TV’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, 15-year-old Carlos is the only one of his buds who is still a virgin. He wants more than anything to have sexy Roxie as his girlfriend—"and hopefully get laid." When she ignores him, he secretly hires smart Sal, who is gay, to give him a makeover. In return, Sal wants him to help form a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in their Texas high school. ... the wry, self-help makeover details about grooming, shopping, and good manners are fun, and when Carlos hooks up with Roxie, their sexy fumbling is drawn with wry realism. Carlos and Roxie talk online, and they make out on the couch, but then she snubs him in public and dumps him—leaving him to discover the difference between a hookup and a girlfriend. At the core of the story is Carlos’ growing friendship with Sal, the questions and answers about being gay or straight, and their fight against homophobia, at school and in Carlos himself. The message of tolerance is strong, but it is dramatized with humor and truth."
Kirkus: "Acne-ridden, slightly pudgy Carlos is the quieter member of a quartet of cocksure, trash-talking high-school boys who've dubbed themselves "Los hornitos" since elementary school. Horny they are, and Sanchez captures their lusty, girl-crazy conversations with a humorously skeptical eye. Carlos talks the talk, but mostly pines after Roxy Rodriguez, the hottest and most popular girl in school. Inspired by the television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, he beseeches Sal, an openly gay guy at school, to make him over from pimply scrub to princely stud. Sal concedes-on the condition that Carlos promises to come to a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting-and soon Carlos's new haircut, diet, bedroom redecoration and cleanliness nab Roxy's attentions. All is not well in the house of love, however, and soon Carlos must face the fact that beauty is much more than skin deep. Sanchez spins an upbeat contemporary drama set against a colorful Latino culture. Tone and plot canter along at a cheerful, upbeat pace, but not without the subtly lingering sense of homophobia that pervades the characters' conversations. Sanchez acts on these cues successfully and non-didactically, ultimately conjuring a universe where young men can come together, regardless of sexuality, to support one another."
VOYA: "Carlos, fifteen, has never had sex. No girl has ever agreed to a one-night hookup with him. He has never even been kissed, and his dream girl, Roxy, does not even know he exists. Certain that it is his gangly, rumpled appearance that puts girls off, Carlos asks his gay classmate Sal to effect a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-style total image makeover. Sal agrees but drives a hard bargain: in exchange for the makeover, Carlos must co-found a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at their high school with Sal. Carlos tries to keep the makeover, his budding friendship with Sal, and most of all, his involvement in the GSA a secret from his best friends-handsome jerk Playboy, supportive Pulga, and athletic Toro-but the difference in Carlos's appearance, behavior, and attitude are remarkable. As in his Rainbow trilogy-Rainbow Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2001/VOYA December 2001); Rainbow High (2004/VOYA December 2003); Rainbow Road (2005/VOYA October 2005)-Sanchez goes beyond common issues of anxiety surrounding sexuality and peer perceptions to get at deeper issues like male body image, how boys negotiate friendships and vulnerabilities in romantic relationships, sexuality in Latino culture, and the increasing number of GSAs in schools across the country. Sanchez's workmanlike but jaunty, conversational prose is well suited to his subject matter. This title's sexual frankness may make it a controversial choice, particularly for school libraries in more conservative communities, but its themes, appeal, and readability make it a nearly essential purchase.
Getting It teaches young teens to stand up for themselves, even if they get teased. It also teaches readers that friends will like you for who you are, whether you are gay or not. Otherwise they are not truly your friends. Overall I think this is a great book, and it will teach you a few life lessons."
School Library Journal: Grade 7 Up – "Carlos Amoroso, 15, loves video games, junk food, and hanging out with his buddies. The only thing he can't do is get a date with sexy, popular Roxy Rodriguez. After watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, he approaches a gay classmate, Sal, for a makeover. Sal agrees but insists that Carlos help him start a Gay-Straight Alliance at their predominantly Hispanic Texas high school. Carlos is conflicted–what if his friends think he's gay, too? In the process, the teen learns how to clean, dress, clear zits, and talk to girls. He also learns how to be honest with himself, and how to tell people, including his macho father and homophobic buddies, how he really feels. ... the truth of the story and familiar, realistic characters quickly engage readers. The dialogue is pointed and natural, and the characterizations and plot emerge deftly from conversation, especially teenage trash talking. Sanchez's usual good-natured humor flavors Sal and Carlos's tumultuous friendship. The easy pace and farcical Cyrano de Bergerac meets Queer Eye construct of the novel is deceptive: the mood is wholly emotional as hate is exposed everywhere and even the minor characters discover new truths. This sweet, simple examination of homophobia and friendship is a welcome addition to the genre, especially for reluctant readers."
–Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library