(I read half of this book earlier in the day, but am putting all the minutes together now.)
David Inside Out
by Lee Bantle. Henry Holt, 2009 (978-0-8050-8122-0) $16.99
Trying to figure out how to put the moves on a girl for the first time can be hard. "Was I supposed to touch her knee now?... Should I just drop my hand on her? Were you supposed to squeeze?" wonders David. But David has an extra problem... Kick, the girl who pretty clearly wants to be his girlfriend, isn't nearly as attractive to him as someone else -- his track teammate, Sean.
David is determined not to give in to his feelings. "This wasn't me. It couldn't be. Not gay. Anything but that." He makes a list of ways to be more straight, correcting himself with a snap of a rubber band on his wrist whenever he has a wrong feeling. Then Sean invites him to fool around, throwing all his best straight intentions out the window. David is scared of being out to his friends, but ready to be in love--but Sean refuses to admit he likes anything but getting off. "I don't kiss or write love poems... I don't put it in my mouth." Sean, David will find, is far more determined not to be gay than he could ever be.
Fast-paced and plot-focused, this sympathetic coming out story will probably have the most appeal to readers who are also struggling with their sexual identities. I found myself most interested in the secondary characters, whose actions and motivations are something of a puzzle to David, complicating his life. Sean has the private sex rules designed to prove that he's not really gay. Kick betrays his confession to her and then deliberately seduces him, perhaps in a misguided attempt to "cure" him, only to wind up hurt. Only his oldest friend Eddie, who recently came out himself, is really straightforward about who he is and what he wants... an excellent role model for the newly self-aware David.
The story has a small amount of graphic language and quite a few brief, non-explicit but not coy sex scenes. I was bothered that condoms are only mentioned in a heterosexual context, though it would have been quite narratively easy to have the person David talks to at a gay hotline drop a word about safe sex -- considering Sean's secretive, denial-filled approach to sex, he strikes me as a highly risky person to have unprotected encounters with. Recommended for mature readers. (15 & up)© 2009 Wendy E. Betts
R: 1 hour, 46 minutes
B: 43 minutes
RB: 4 minutes
Other Blog Reviews:The Goddess of YA LiteratureThe 3 Rs of SummerQueer YAStop, Drop and Read
-- interesting, albeit somewhat insensitive review by someone who felt "weirded out" by gay people and now has a better sense of the discrimination they face. The book may have more general appeal than I had thought.
Labels: book challenge, gay/lesbian, reviews, young adult fiction