Ball Caps and Khakis, Deep Secrets and Hope 6, Harmony Ink Press, February 25, 2016
Just Love: Romance Novel Reviews gives Ball Caps and Khakis 3.5 stars and says, “This is a novel that takes on some weighty issues, and handles them with sensitivity and care.”
Books to Get Lost In gives Ball Caps and Khakis 4.5 stars and says, “This book deals with different forms of rape and thoughts about consent issues. And I really like how it deals with it.”
Man-Shik “Manny” Park, grandson of strict Korean immigrants, is trying to protect his friend Jim Frankel from bullies who don’t think Jim should be allowed to live in Ludington, Michigan, let alone have any friends. Manny is determined to stand by Jim, even if Jim isn’t willing to defend himself.
But Jim’s problems aren’t the only ones facing Manny. Against his parents’ wishes, Manny yearns to be an artist. He’s also more attracted to guys than girls, and he’s asexual. Only Jim knows these secrets, and Manny knows a few of Jim’s too.
Bonded by their shared confidences, Manny supports Jim after he’s accused of sending explicit Facebook messages to middle school girls, including Manny’s sister. While Manny sets out to prove Jim’s innocence, things go from bad to worse. Soon after the incident, Manny and Jim receive intimidating messages, and Jim is put in danger. To help his friend, Manny risks everything to try to learn who’s behind the threats and why they want to destroy Jim’s life.
“How old are you, Jae-Shik?” Todd took a pen out of the same pocket the notebook had been in.
“Eleven,” Jae said softly.
“You’re not in trouble for being online,” Casey said quickly. “At least not with us. We’re only here to talk about the message.”
“Thank you.” Jae cleared her throat.
Todd wrote something in his notebook. “You have a Facebook profile. Is it public or private?”
“Private. I’m only on there so I can talk with my friends.”
“Good.” Todd wrote something else. “You know nothing’s completely private online, though, right?”
“Yeah.” Jae looked down. “I tried.”
“Even if people can find your profile, it doesn’t give them the right to send you inappropriate things,” Casey said. “Good for you for trying to protect yourself.”
“Did you recognize the name on the message?” Todd asked.
“No,” Jae said. “It wasn’t even a real name. It was weird. Gimme Gurlz. G-I-M-M-E G-U-R-L-Z.”
Todd wrote it down. “Have you been talking with anyone other than your friends online? Have you sent anything to any boys at your school?”
“No!” Jae’s eyes widened. “I don’t even like any boys.”
“Jae-Shik, they have to ask these questions, remember?” Mom put her hand on Jae’s arm. “No one’s accusing you. Only asking.”
“Right,” Todd said. “We have to make sure we understand everything that’s going on here.”
“No, I didn’t send anything to any boys,” Jae mumbled.
“Thank you.” Todd made another note.
I leaned on the arm of the couch. I couldn’t decide what was worse, Jae getting the message or having to answer questions like that because of it. I wanted to yell at Todd to leave my sister alone, but I had to keep my mouth shut.
“Do you have any idea who might have sent it?” Todd asked.
Jae shook her head again. “He said stuff about watching me play sports, though. He said he’s been at my school. Are you going to read the message?”
“In a second,” Casey said.
“Okay.” Jae looked at the floor.
“So some of the things he said lead you to believe he’s seen you in person,” Todd said. “And he said he’s been at the middle school. Did he say whether he’s been inside?”
“No.” Jae wrapped her arms around herself. “But he knows where it is. That’s bad, right? He might come after me or whoever else he sent a message to.”
“We’ll put a couple of officers at the middle school to keep an eye out.” Todd wrote that down too. “Last question. Has anyone said anything to you in person like the message, or has anyone acted in a way that made you uncomfortable?”
“Thank you.” Todd turned to me. “Jae showed you the message first, Man-Shik?”
“Yeah.” I sat up. I had to look respectful while the nice policeman asked me questions.
“Why did she show you and not your parents?”
He should have asked Jae, not me. I didn’t have a clue what went through Jae’s head.
I took a guess, though. “She said she was afraid she’d get in trouble for being on Facebook. She’s too young to have a profile, and Mom and Dad had told her not to make one.”
“Were you afraid she’d be in trouble?”
What kind of question is that? “After I read the message, I thought it was more important to tell Mom and Dad than to worry about whether they’d be mad at Jae for being on Facebook.”
“You made the right decision, Man-Shik,” Dad said.
Todd made another note. “Did you recognize the name on the message? Had you seen it before?”
I thought about it for a few seconds. I didn’t remember ever seeing a name like that, but I wanted to make sure before I answered. “No. I’d never seen it anywhere.”
“Okay.” He wrote something, then paused. “This is a complicated question, but I’m going to ask anyway. Be completely honest. Did anything in the message stand out to you? Any phrasing or repeated words that might give us an idea of who sent it?”
Reading between the lines, I knew darn well what he was asking: whether anything in the message sounded like something Jim would say. I was seriously ticked at him for asking. To me it implied they’d already made up their minds that Jim had sent the messages. And I couldn’t argue without giving away the fact that I’d figured it out, or without Mom and Dad getting on my case for being disrespectful again.
But I could avoid the question.