Boys of the Beast
In this refreshing, smoothly written debut, three cousins who have never been close drive from Oregon to Arizona in Beast, their grandmother’s 1988 Ford Thunderbird, after her funeral. Matt, who is white and Latino, inherits Grandma Lupe’s car and convinces his evangelical Christian parents to allow him to drive it home to Phoenix. Half-Jewish Ethan persuades Matt to reroute through California so he can meet his online crush, Levi, a student at Berkeley. Oscar, who is Latino, just wants to get high and continue avoiding the aftermath of his father’s tragic murder in a school shooting nine years earlier. Matt struggles to reconcile God's plan for his life with his dream of being a filmmaker—at times, he composes screenplay scenes of their adventures. Ethan is deeply insecure, but he knows just how to help when Oscar is overcome by suicidal thoughts, (a plotline that is resolved a bit too easily). These 18-year-olds gradually discover—and reveal—their true selves as they help one another envision a future of love, honesty, and acceptance.