-Best Literary Memoir of 2006/Borderís Editors
-Best Book of 2006/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
-BookSense Selection by nationís independent booksellers
America’s Boy is a quintessential American story: the tug of conformity versus the pull of individualism. Happily, individualism wins in the end but not without struggle and pain. Rouse's memoir reads like a series of vignettes --- the chapters are quick, easily read and the humor often belies the seriousness of the topic. Rouse's prose is light, witty and brisk. The book shines … especially when Rouse describes his family, namely his wonderful and vivid grandmothers.
These two women, very different from each other, encouraged him and loved him so strongly that the reader can feel it in the text. His entire family is interesting and make for a compelling cast of characters, with the likeable Wade in the center. Rouse's brother Todd haunts the story and powerfully moves Rouse in both positive and negative directions in his young life. Wade Rouse's tale is about identity and family (and identity despite family). It is smart and bittersweet and, as a good memoir should be, deeply personal and relatable.
From the The Washington Post
An impressive [new] voice. America's Boy is a real tearjerker [and] revelatory story about acceptance, pride and the many ways family can surprise us. Rouse is an original writer with the ability to reach what could be a large and grateful audience.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A ribald, wrenching memoir … through the prism of his pain and disappointment, Rouse has fashioned a remembrance that is funny and sad and insightful and depressing, at times inspirational and always different. Rouse’s way of describing [life] could be the script for a new hybrid TV show – maybe “Will and Grace” move to Mayberry. No one should be surprised if Rouse follows this first book with others that are equally moving [considering] the ease of his prose and the honesty of his narrative. Rouse’s combination of honest emotion and evocative prose seems destined to be a hit.
From Metro Weekly
Rouse is one of those writers who is becoming increasingly difficult to come by. He’s a storyteller and a memorist in the best sense of the words. His work is not the polished prose that we see from more and more nonfiction writers. There is no veneer of writerly distance to his work. Reading Rouse’s memoir is more like sitting with a good friend and a cold beer, trading stories and remembering those things that may have been painful or tragic at the time, but must now be respected for what they are. The past. Our memories. What sets America’s Boy apart is a joy that constantly presses up from under the text. There is a fondness in his writing, as well as a bright and welcome honesty. It’s that truthfulness that makes “America’s Boy” a wonderful joy to read. Rouse is a memoirist who embraces the job he has chosen to do. He simply wants to share his story. And that is something we readers are not treated to often enough.
From Genre Magazine
Grade of A+.
First-time author Wade Rouse writes a startlingly honest memoir about growing up both closeted and overweight in a small, rural town near the Ozarks. Brutally funny, extremely observant and poignantly heartfelt, this book is an ode to the people who shape us, for better or worse – and it will probably ring all-too-true for a whole host of screwed up people. Translation: This is one book you’ll definitely be able to relate to.
From Library Journal
On page one, we meet [Wade] dressed in his grandma Rouse's red high heels, his mother's black-and-white bikini, gold earrings, a tinfoil crown with glued-on red checkers, and a cardboard sash that says "Miss Sugar Creek" in red magic marker. He's five, he's got attitude, and he has the reader laughing and worrying at the same time. Rouse writes tenderly, hilariously, and without bitterness about his unusual family, life as a closeted gay teen, the death of his brother, a misunderstanding with his father, his coming out, and love with his partner, Gary. This is Rouse's first book, and it's a winner. Highly recommended.
From Out in America
The Missouri Ozarks may not sound like the best place to grow up as a gay male. Author of America’s Boy Wade Rouse, however, did and survived to become a strong gay male role model whose own experiences can be shared by gay men everywhere. So what makes this tale anything out of the ordinary from that of any other gay man, one that is to be revered for years to come? Rouse’s respect for his past and the homage he pays to those who helped him become the man he is today. America’s Boy is a must read for anybody who has ever struggled with not just their sexual identity, but where they came from.
From Jane Magazine
I feel like I’ve been been friends with Wade for years now.
From Book Marks
This one is a charmer with a happy ending - thanks to an epiphany involving Nordic Track exercise equipment.
Rouse’s seriocomic debut memoir has … compassion. Rouse’s self-mocking recollections of [his] childhood whipsaw from giddy highs to, more commonly, crushing lows of destructive insecurity. Rouse proves his [writing] mettle further with a lovingly skewed portrait of his family. Mom is a highly dramatic nurse who constantly answers her own questions as if on the stand (“That is correct, sir!”), while routine-loving Dad calls everyone “honey” and leaves the Ozarks only once a year, to bring the family to see his beloved St. Louis Cardinals. The author lulls his readers with seductive evocations of stifling summers at the Rouse cabin: wet, buggy nights; chaotic family gatherings; bottle rockets being shot off on the Fourth of July. Reality comes crashing in about halfway through with a tragedy that shatters everything … Rouse expertly sketches his subsequent road to personal fulfillment … [America’s Boy is a] poetic … evocative and honest look at one man’s long self-gestation.
From Publishers Weekly
Funny, affecting. Wearing his mother's bikini and pearls to a mock beauty pageant at age five, winning office in his high school's Future Homemakers club, feigning romantic interest in a string of female beards, Rouse was hopelessly out of step with the redneck masculinity urged on him by taunting classmates and despairing relatives. Fortunately, he had a charmingly offbeat family, led by two warmhearted grandmothers, who accepted him as he was (without asking too many questions) and left him with a trove of glowing memories … the book comes alive with tender portraits of kitsch and kin.
Growing up in 1970s Granby, Missouri, a tiny Ozarks town where "trailers outnumber homes and teeth," isn't easy when you're a boy like Wade, who dreams of being crowned "Miss Sugar Creek." As a result, his childhood is a search for places and things that make him feel safe: the smell of coffee, his grandparents' lofty feather bed, and--best of all--the family cabin on Sugar Creek, where he can relax and be himself. Rouse's affectionate, episodic evocation of his loving, extended, and slightly eccentric family is engaging but [then] the unthinkable happens: his older brother is killed in a motorcycle accident, and life for the survivors becomes darker, more dangerous, and--for readers--more interesting as Wade, who has always defined himself by his family, must find himself and come to terms with his homosexuality. "I have outed myself to myself," he writes, and "for once it's not about the past."
Charming … filled with unforgettable, unique, real, flinty, warts-and-all portraits of his extended (and ultimately loveable) family. I really understood why he loved these people and why it was so hard to risk losing them by being honest about himself. Chuckles on almost every page, and the lump-in-your-throat moments … were honestly earned because he made sure we are invested in these people. Quite a nice surprise: Immensely likeable, breezily readable, the kind of book you think “just one more chapter” and then you’ve read another 50 pages – with a nice message to boot.