While Alan Cole and his two not-friends sit together at lunch, he continually dreams of basic survival. His father's a harsh guy and hates something that happened with his own parents; his brother, Nathan, is a yard beyond the line between sibling antics and bully savageries; and his mother's a shy version of her former loving self. When Nathan discovers Alan has a secret crush on another guy at school, he challenges Alan to a series of impossible tasks to win the right not to be outed. Moving and important, the story sees Alan reluctantly enlisting his eccentric not-friends to help him win Nathan's challenge, though the pressure to fit in by staying quiet might just end up ruining any hope to learn he isn't a coward.
— Todd Wellman
Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you're coming of age--and coming out.
Alan Cole can't stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can't escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he's about as exceptional as a goldfish. And--scariest of all--he can't let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.
But when Nathan discovers Alan's secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks; whoever finishes the most wins the game. If Alan doesn't want to be outed to all of Evergreen Middle School, he's got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad. Alan's determined to prove--to Nathan, to the world, to himself--that this goldfish can learn to swim.
May the best Cole win.