This is perhaps a difference because of the current trend in books to explore race more thoroughly-- I sometimes was not sure what race a character was. Race was not much of an issue in the book, although there were some insensitive comments, and there were plenty of other things going on. Perhaps I was expecting the issue of race to be more involved because this was set in Canada, and I wasn't quite sure what the levels of diversity were there. In my community, there are a wide variety of backgrounds.
This jumped right in to the family problems, which will firmly keep student interest well into the book, and Ezra's crush isn't discussed at length until about half way through the book. At that point, readers will be invested in what happens to both him and Brian. This is, sadly, really important when it comes to gay characters. I still have boys who will use the term "gay" negatively, and have to be instructed about how hurtful this is. They often have no idea what they are really saying. Perhaps for this reason, while the girls in my school frequently ask for LGBTQIA+ titles, the boys are reluctant to pick them up. This was similar to Pancholy's The Best at It, in that the main character's coming out wasn't central to the story, but just part of the emerging story line. The readers who don't want to read about gay characters are the ones who should be reading about them, and this is an excellent book to promote positive behaviors and understanding. A good companion to Jung's Boys in the Back Row.