Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 13 to 16
- Grade: 8 to 11
Fifteen-year-old Cisco Soames knows he doesn’t come from a normal family. His first name is San Francisco, his younger twin sisters are called Paris and India. All are named after places his hippy parents, Delta and Rocky, visited back in the days when they were young and in love. Which they aren’t anymore—in fact, Cisco’s dad is not only moving out, he’s coming out. And now that Rocky is moving in with another man, this poses certain problems for Cisco, especially with the town bullies. Next thing he knows, Cisco’s been suspended from school for fighting, and now, in the weirdest turn of events yet for a teen who prefers to smash garlic rather than noses—he’s been accused of putting old man Patterson in a coma. To let things “cool down” just a little, Cisco is informed he’s being sent to live with an uncle he’s never met on a Rocky Mountain dude ranch in British Columbia. And the dude is a draft-dodging renegade known as “Uncle Party.” Things couldn’t get any worse, could they?
Smart, contemporary and studded with self-deprecating humour, Soames on the Range is a coming-of-age novel that speaks easily and confidently to adolescent fears and angst about family, friends, sex and, most of all, identity.
It was a family meeting with a real twist. My mother sat on the edge of her seat, legs crossed, flipping her foot up and down. My sisters, India and Paris, ten-year-old twins, slouched in a loveseat by the window, bookends with bad posture. My father stood in the centre of the room, hands on hips, looking uncharacteristically bleary eyed and unshaven. Have I mentioned we never have family meetings at my house?We are not, I should add, the most normal family you’ve ever met. Family meetings are just way too Disney for us. Usually we communicate by shouting.My name, for the record, is San Francisco Soames. Named after the city. Paris is named after a city too. India got an entire country. These are places my parents travelled to when they were young and in love.Which they aren’t any more. —from Soames on the Range
About the author
Nancy Belgue is the author of three books of middle-grade fiction. Her first book, The Scream of the Hawk, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award and the Diamond Willow Award. Soames On The Range is her first novel for young adults. Originally submitted to a young adult novel contest sponsored by Delacorte in the US, it was one of four finalists. After graduating with a degree in English literature, Nancy spent much of her career working in publishing and advertising. She has appeared in television commercials and documentaries, including an award-winning documentary, Streetsmart. Nancy was a winner of a column-writing contest sponsored by the Toronto Sun, has had articles published in magazines in Canada and the United States and written short stories and poetry, as well as novels. She currently works part-time in a library in southwestern Ontario and as a literary/drama artist for Learning Through the Arts.
Soames on the RangeCisco Soames feels as if his whole world is collapsing all around him when his father reveals to his family that he is gay, and that he is moving in with Ralph Brewster. Cisco knows that in their small town this news will spread quickly and will scandalize many of their neighbours, not to mention his schoolmates. He is already the target of the school bullies, and this will simply add fuel to their fire. Soon Cisco finds himself suspended from school and then, in a bizarre twist of fate, accused of hurting an elderly man whom he had been innocently trying to help. With things rapidly spiraling out of control, his parents decide to send him to stay with his uncle on his remote ranch in British Columbia. There, further misadventures await him!
Nancy Belgue's novel is certainly far from typical! Filled with quirky characters and out-of-the-ordinary events, the plot is anything but predictable. On the other hand, there are so many different (and somewhat outrageous) storylines that few, if any, are fully explored or satisfactorily resolved. However, readers can't help but sympathize with Cisco who just can't seem to cut any breaks. The author adeptly captures his feelings of betrayal and anger towards his father, and also the tremendous impact that this huge revelation has on Cisco's own sense of self as he struggles to even admit to himself his gnawing fear: if my father is gay, and I am so much like him, am I gay too? With humour and some eventual bursts of insight, Cisco navigates an exceedingly tumultuous course through adolescence.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2007. Vol.30 No.3.