Sex. Romance. Love triangles. The pastor's daughter gone bad.
The Vincent Boys either has a lot going for it, or is a huge pile of cliches depending on who you talk to and what your perspective is on the matter. This would have to be the first young adult novel I've ever read where the sweet, pastor's daughter ends up getting cunnilingus in her boyfriend's car (in fact, it's the first young adult novel I've read that features cunnilingus at all,) and I suspect that much of the novel's popularity has to do with the same elements that make the novel kind of annoying. The fact is, this book is sexually explicit for a young adult novel. It is also contains a love triangle that is as interesting as it is cliched. Sweet, Pastor's daughter Ashton is alone for the summer as her boyfriend, the perfect and popular Sawyer is away on a mountain trip. Chance leads Ashton to encountering Sawyer's cousin, the trailer dwelling bad boy Beau. Until she hit puberty, Ashton was friends with both boys, often playing dumb pranks with Beau, but her relationship with Sawyer changed all that. Now, with Beau gone, Ashton feels the bad girl in her coming to the surface.
And that's really it. We see the beginnings of Ashton and Beau's affair, the development of their sexual relationship, Sawyer's return, the all mighty fallout when Ashton and Beau's affair is discovered and the eventually resolution. And woven through the story is the dilemma of choosing happiness over duty.
What this novel does have in abundance is likeable characters (even if the choices they make aren't always the best,) and a brilliant depiction of life in Alabama. I did think that there was a real sexist undercurrent through the book and that some things, such as Beau's temper and his tendency to solve problems using his fists, should have been dealt with instead of being treated as if it were cute and quirky because he was "protecting" Ashton. But for reasons that I cannot understand, books of this type always seem to gloss over issues of anger management and treat jealousy and possessiveness as if it were a good thing, instead of a massive red flag that one is headed toward an abusive relationship. Or maybe this is dealt with in the sequel?
Or perhaps I'm just a grumpy old book critic. Anyway, this one isn't a bad read, though I suspect it will appeal more to the group of twenty and thirty-somethings who still read young adult novels rather that its intended audience.