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Jackie Walsh



Boy Fashionista

03 Mar 2001
United States


Hi everybody: I'm a guy who likes fashion and hopes to be a fashion writer.  I stumbled on this site accidentally, and fell in love with it. Since I joined, I have found  everyone to be fabulous--so accepting and non-judgmental. And that's been really special because it's not always been easy being a fashion-oriented boy who's into stuff girls like and isn't really very boyish.

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Published on: 15 Nov 2011 by jackie_walsh

Book Review: Exiled to Iowa. Send Help and Couture by Chris O’Guinn


"I glared up at the quaint little two-story house with all the disdain my fifteen year old heart could muster. It looked like something I had seen on one of the design shows I spend too much time watching. The eaves were just too adorably festooned with frilly wood-work and the chipper eye-popping shade of yellow the house had been painted was not just garish, it was insulting; it was as if the house was flaunting the fact that it represented the end of all life as I knew it."


That’s our introduction to Collin, the hero of this new book that deals with a fashion-minded LA kid who finds himself suddenly uprooted to Iowa because his father had to move to work. Collin is really a pretty sweet kid, a little snarky of course but basically nice. He totally misses his life in LA and is not a great fit for Buford, Iowa. For one thing, he love fashion and thinks Buford is “the eighth circle of hell” when it comes to couture. For another, he knows no one in town and is not looking forward to staring in a new school with a new group of bullies to avoid. Most important though is the fact that he is gay. He thinks that his older brother Shawn is the only one who knows his “secret,” but his parents are pretty sure, especially his mom and turn out to be very supportive—almost a perfect family. Even though he thinks he’s acting straight, Collin is really pretty obvious.


As the story opens, Shawn advises him to tone down his clothes selections for the new school to get a fresh start. Collin tells him that “Most people just wear clothes…I wear couture” but goes through his wardrobe anyway to find something that would be fashionable, but still pass the Buford test. Unfortunately, none of his outfits are even close: one of the shirts is “a gorgeous shade of purple, with white and gold filigree designs swirling elegantly from one shoulder across the chest to the waist.” And his jeans are all various degrees of “skinny” and in a wide range of colors, none of which is blue. Using the Internet, he discovers a clothing store called the “Grab Bag” that shockingly seems to have really cool stuff. On the way to find the store, he meets a big kind guy named Keith and his sister Becca. Originally suspicious, Becca becomes friendlier and the three go shopping at the Grab Bag and Collin has met some new friends.

Unfortunately, weekends don’t last forever and Collin as to start in his new school where he promptly runs into a gang of bullies just looking for someone new to terrorize. In the meeting with the principal Collin seems to be getting told it’s his fault that he was picked on (blame the victim, right!!) but the meeting ends better when the Principal asks him to start up a drama club. Later that afternoon, he meets Austin who everyone regards as a total psycho who had been kicked out of his previous school, but actually turns out to be pretty nice. For one thing, he loves “High School Musical” so he and Collin immediately start a conversation about Vanessa and Zac—what an ice breaker.


I don’t want to give away the plot because this is one gay “coming of age” book worth reading. But suffice it to say that he winds up going on a date with Austin (even though Collin pretends it’s not a date), leads the drama club in a production of “Moulin Rouge,” gets a paying job working at the Grab Bag, has more encounters with the Buford High bullies (although one of the worst bullies eventually becomes his friend), and has a mix up with Becca who (for some strange reason) doesn’t realize he’s gay and falls for him. It turns out that being exiled to Iowa wasn’t that bad after all!


This is really a fun book for anyone, gay or straight, about a sweet kid with a great family and group of friends. I really recommend it highly. For more info, check out




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