The world is big and changing, but Vermillion, Georgia, like so many small towns, exists in a time warp. Rufus—a fifteen-year-old budding painter with flame-red hair—is so pale and skinny that one of his nicknames is “Matchstick.” He is also gay and a synesthete, with right-wing Christian parents. Syd—spiky-haired, smart-mouthed, and tired of having to act like a parent to her own mother—isn’t sure what she’s into, except for old movies, black eyeliner, and black coffee.
When Rufus and Syd find one another, they start finding themselves too, with the unlikely help of two Vermillion natives—Josephine, an old bohemian, who for many years ran a repertory cinema in Chicago with her late husband, and Cole, a middle-aged gay man suffering from brain damage due to the horrific hate crime perpetrated against him in his youth.
Rufus + Syd is a story about two teenages living in the Bible Belt town called Vermillion in Georgia. Both are proud atheists and Rufus is openly (or as open as he could be) gay while Syd isn’t quite sure who she is yet. Rufus’s family are hardcore Christians, though his brother had moved away a while ago, and is normally bullied by other students in his school for being gay. Syd, short for Sydney, is a new girl who had just moved from Kentucky. Her mother moved there after meeting a guy on the internet and works at a hair salon called Hair Affairs. They become friends and the overall story is them trying to survive the town and make it out someday with the help of a woman named Josephine and a man named Cole.
Honestly, I could not get into the book until the end which really disappoints me. It sounded like a interesting concept and I was excited to read it. As I was reading it though, I couldn’t feel immersed in the world. It wasn’t till the end of the book I felt like I could connect with the characters at all. In the segment of the book where the two write letters to each other had more emotion than most of the other book. If the rest of the book was like those few pages and the ending, I think I would have been able to like the book much better. Josephine and Cole themselves were interesting people, but they didn’t take away from the pair which was good. They kept the story going along and helped develop the characters, but didn’t take away from the story.
It just felt tired and repeated, as if the story was trying to pound a message into my head. In the end, I really wished this story had more to it, maybe a different style of writing, or doing something to the start that caught my attention. Just something that made me want to read the book rather then just get through it. If I was to recommend this to anyone, I suppose I would tell people who want to know what it would be like to be gay in the Bible Belt. Because this book does tell a decent job of showing what it could be like, though I do feel like it goes over the top a few times. And I would try and stick it out till the end because it really is a nice ending to the story that I feel wraps everything up quite nicely.