Nothing Pink is a touching and poignant young adult novel that will appeal to teen readers and anyone who can recall the passion and conflicts of first love. Vincent, the preacher’s son, meets Robert and his prayers are answered. The two boys quickly connect, but their love slowly unfolds.
They are brought together by a neighbor’s horse named Happy, for which Vince has been left in charge while its owner is away. Vincent and Robert spend lazy summer afternoons riding Happy bareback, exploring fields, swimming and inching closer together each day.
At first, Vincent has avoided Robert’s attempts to spark a friendship: “It’s bad enough with kids just thinking I’m gay. If I hang out with another known queer, I will give them all the proof they need. There will be no end to our misery.” Through his mother’s urging, Vincent accepts Robert’s invitation to hang out. For Vincent’s parents, their son’s new friendship with Robert, whose “nails are long and buffed, if not actually coated in clear polish….Every hair is in place, like John Travolta’s,” soon comes into focus and becomes a problem. The author does a great job showing how these parents deal, and at the same time don’t know how to deal, with their gay child. He also shows how the boys navigate their friendship and love by not displaying sensual physical intimacy in public, but at the same time being as close as two boys are socially allowed to be.
The parents finally get the proof they need when Vincent’s mom finds a copy of First Hand, a gay erotic magazine, in his room. All hell breaks loose and they lay hands on Vincent in an attempt to cast out the gay demon. But it’s too late, because Vincent has discovered that the love he shares with Robert is beautiful and not evil or sinful. He is demon-free.
Hardy’s prose is straightforward, the story is linear, and at a little over one hundred pages, it’s a fast read. But slow down to the book’s leisurely pace to enjoy all the lush descriptions, and depictions of awkward—and at times, sexy—young love.
The story may also appeal to folks in their thirties and forties because it is firmly set in the 1970s, with fun references to Charlie’s Angels, Three’s Company, the Carpenters and Barry Manilow.
The book’s title, Nothing Pink, refers to a moment in Vincent’s childhood. He loves wearing a girl’s pink outfit until a woman in the supermarket reveals the queerness of the situation and makes him feel ashamed. He tears off the outfit and vows to wear nothing pink. His love for Robert brings pink back into his life, along with all the other colors of the rainbow.