Category Archives: ** Low recommend

Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones

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Llewellyn Publications/Flux 2007.

Gay – T

Belle had expected to marry her high school boyfriend, Dylan, after college, so she is devastated when he comes out to her. However, she soon starts dating someone else, and even manages to be there as a friend to Dylan, despite her anger.

Jones has nothing new to offer with this well-worn plot theme.  Low recommend.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Gay, High School

Magic and Misery by Peter Marino

Haoliday House, 2009.

Gay – High School

Another stereotypical teen novel in which the girl (Toni Jo), has a crush on a guy (Pan, short for Pansy–yes really), only to find out he is gay. Stuck together in their miserable little town where nothing’s happening, they swear best friendship and loyalty to each other, only to have it shaken when teen jock, Caspar, falls for Toni Jo.

Pan acts like a jealous boyfriend, and Toni Jo lies to both boys, alienating each of them: not telling Pan when she has a date with Caspar, and not telling Caspar that the reason she can’t go to the prom with him is that she already promised to go with Pan.

Meanwhile, Pan is the victim of increasing harassment from two classmates, and refuses to complain to school authorities. Nothing Amy can say will convince him to report the abuse, and ultimately, he and his family decide they need to move out of the area.

While there is nothing glaringly wrong with this book, it isn’t a strong title. None of the characters is well-developed, and the dialogue is occasionally wooden. Caspar is consistently portrayed as somewhat slow on the draw, and it isn’t clear what Toni Jo sees in him beyond the fact that she’s desperate for male attention.  And Pan’s jealous behavior comes close to being the frightening sort which parents ought to be warning their daughters against.

Marino is a playwright and has published a previous novel that was well-received.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Gay

The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison

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HarperTeen, 2009

Gay – High School

Val is one of those students at high school who just blends in. She doesn’t have any particular friends, she skates by with a B+ average though she could do better; her physics teacher can’t even remember her name.

Then Francie joins her class and everything changes. Francie is flamboyant, defiant, she smokes, she’s always late to class, her clothing pushes the dress code: she’s nowhere in Val’s league. But for some reason, she latches onto Val, who is astonished and grateful, and willingly learns to smoke, cut class, and learn the skills of shoplifting from Francie.

Val is even a little bit in love with Francie, although “not in a lesbo way.” Homophobia rears its ugly head in this book, with Val, and her brother’s ex-girlfriend referring to him as a fag, and their mother unable to fully accept him. Fourteen year old Francie sets out to “cure” him by dressing particularly provocatively, and then can’t handle it when she gets attention from a group of construction workers.

Fissures start to edge into the friendship, and it all comes crumbling down one day at the mall as Val and Francie realize that their vows to be there for each other can’t address the real issues each of them is facing. An interesting psychological story of a friendship built on the shaky structure of two girls each needing something that the other ultimately can’t give.

This would be a much better book without the homophobia–or if it was something that the characters worked through.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Gay, High School

The Broken Road by Sean Michael

brokenTorquere Press, 2006     ISBN: 1934166391

Ard and West grow up as best friends in a rural area. West is eager to get out as soon as possible, while Ard both loves farm life, and is stuck supporting his family after the death of his father and the breakdown of his mother. West comes out, and goes through a series of unsuitable boyfriends before finding true love–only to be destroyed when his lover is killed. Meanwhile, Ard watches helplessly over the years, too terrified to confess his love. When they finally do get together, their bond is more than either of them could have imagined.

The writing is weak and stilted at times, particularly in the first half of the book, but does improve as the book goes on. Some good sex scenes in the latter part of the book. Older teens will enjoy.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, Sexually Explicit

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

dramaramaHyperion Books, 2007     ISBN: 0786838159

Sadye (really Sarah) and Demi, two social outcasts who are joined together through their love of musicals are off to musical theater camp. Sadye quickly discovers that her talents are not as strong as she’d thought, and in the cut-throat competitiveness over roles, she’s disappointed with what she gets. Meanwhile, Demi turns out to be star material and not only that, has the attentions of two boys. Their friendship is strained by these differences, and the fact that Sadye doesn’t get that being black is an issue that Demi has to deal with every day of his life. Both of them behave rather poorly toward each other, but Sadye is having trouble getting along with her roommates and drama directors as well.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s

No More Sad Goodbyes by Marilyn Reynolds

NoMoreSadGoodbyesCoverMorning Glory Press, 2007. ISBN: 1932538712

In this rather melodramatic book, Autumn gets pregnant the first time she has sex–with a childhood friend who she’s not in love with, and who her best friend, Danni has a major crush on. She plans on having an abortion, but when her father and grandmother get killed in an automobile accident she goes into a kind of fog, and by the time she’s functioning again, it’s too late for an abortion, all of which puts her college plans, academic or athletic, on hold.

Meanwhile, she’s been living at Danni’s house, but Danni’s very religious and self-righteous mother takes her to the county home when she realizes Autumn is pregnant, saying that she will be a bad influence on her younger daughter, and will ruin Danni’s reputation.

The county home is a real eye-opener for middle-class Autumn, but she does make one friend there, and learns to hold her own with her hostile roommate.

One day she runs away and contacts her high school volleyball coach, Nikki, who agrees to take her in for one night. While there, Autumn learns that Nikki and her partner, Peggy have been hoping to adopt a child, and decides that she wants to give her baby to them. The rest of the story deals with how that will come about, and with Autumn’s decisions about how much contact she’d like to have with her daughter.

Autumn makes some very adult decisions about her future without the support of a counselor, and during a time of great trauma–and that seems like the one big flaw to the book. At no time does anyone offer her any adoption counseling. Instead, Nikki and Peggy’s adoption agent gives her a bunch of forms and leaves her to fill them out, which she does under some pressure from Peggy. In the hospital, after her child is born the adoption agent shows up to have her sign the final papers, and Autumn makes her go away while she makes some changes to the plan in terms of wanting more pictures and more contact.

Teens will enjoy the story and look beyond the melodramatic aspects and flaws, and will hopefully get the pointed message that the author is making about teen pregnancy and responsibility.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s

What are Parents? by Kyme Fox-Lee

whatStoryTyme Publishing, 2005 ISBN: 0975369903

On the way from the nursery to her parents room, a supposedly newborn baby (who can already sit up) peers into other rooms to look at other new parents, in a variety of family configurations, wondering what parents are. Told in stilted rhyme, the baby learns that parents love, sing, teach, have faith, etc. Finally she arrives at the room of her own parents, a lesbian couple.

Cartoon-like unattractive computer-generated illustrations accompany the story.

There are other books that accomplish what this book sets out to do, that are both better-written, and better-illustrated.

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Filed under ** Low recommend, 2000s, Infant - Preschool