Everyone can point to a book (or series) that represents a defining period in their lives, and the trilogy that Alex Sanchez started with Rainbow Boys is what I look back on. Released in 2001, it wasn't until four years later when I checked it out of my high school's library and read it.
I wound up rereading it and its sequels so often I could almost quote passages verbatim, in large part because I could relate so easily to the main characters. Sanchez's ability to put into words the real-life experiences of so many gay people in the early '00s is what sets him apart from other YA writers.
Reading it as someone in their late twenties, however, has taken away some of the magic it had when I was a recently-out 17 year old. Some parts are now eye rollers, and it no longer screams 'Welcome to your life.' Now, reading it is more reminiscence trip than anything else.
Overall, though, it's still one of my favorite books. If you're looking for a strong coming-of-age story, make sure to pick this (and the other two books) up.