Tama Wise, March 2012. Tyson lives in downtown Auckland and dreams of being a graffiti artist, filling up notebooks with his hip-hop-influenced drawings. He spends his nights washing dishes to help his widowed mom pay the rent while evading the come-ons of sexy Zadie, and his days hanging out with his boy Rawiri. He’s afraid to tell any of them what he’s feared for years: he’s gay.
This problem novel features the classic “coming out into a scary straight world” plot, but dressed up in new clothes as Tyson tries to figure out how he can be both tough and gay; both Maori and gay; both a graffiti artist and gay. The setting is intriguing and almost otherworldly for American-centric readers like me: who even knew New Zealand had a hip-hop scene? Asides about local vs. American rap and the difficulties moving from notebook art to spray-painting add even more interest. Recommended.