Dade Hamilton is 18 years old and struggling with his homosexuality, his parents' crumbling marriage, and the disappearance of a young girl that deeply affects him. For most of his formative years he has been in "love" with Pablo--a boy who uses him sexually but hides their relationship from his girlfriend, friends and family. Pablo can't deal with his own feelings and lashes out at Dade all while demanding that Dade be willing and able to satisfy his needs. Dade finally decides he's had enough when he meets Alex Kincaid. Alex is slightly older and is also troubled--he sells marijuana--but is nonetheless the nice boy that Dade needs. Alex is caring and loving and shows Dade that he deserves to be treated with respect.
At the same time that Dade is finding himself, his parents are losing themselves. His father admits his infidelity, his mother copes with alcohol and pills, and neither one of them is truly there for Dade. But when he needs them the most, they come through for him. Their reaction to his homosexuality is both believable and genuine. They are surprised but not shocked. Disappointed but not devastated.
Nick Burd treats the homosexual aspect of the story realistically and with respect. Dade, Pablo and Alex are not stereotypes. They are real characters coming of age in a difficult situation.
The Vast Fields of Ordinary is a touching story of a boy's first real romance. This story could easily be boy-girl-boy. The fact that all characters are the same gender is not a HUGE deal. And that's kind of nice.