Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Secret Edge

A Secret Edge, by Robin Reardon
$10.20 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 075821927X
Jason is a sixteen-year-old boy who's beginning to suspect he's gay. He has sexual dreams about other guys (including David Bowie, strangely enough) and has become very close "friends" with a boy on his high school track team. This sensitive and unassuming book chronicles his experience as he becomes a man and comes to terms with his sexual orientation.
Things have changed a lot since I was in high school (I graduated in 1991). Gay couples go to the prom, many schools have gay-friendly clubs; it seems like a lot of things have changed for the better for gay teens in the past few years.
Still, it's not without struggle. Jason is on a team with a lot of jocks who use the word "faggot" to describe anyone who's weak or a sissy, not realizing that they're talking about him. He's raised by his aunt and uncle (his parents died when he was young). They love and want what's best for him, but they're provincial people who are wholly unprepared for a homosexual in the family.
Jason becomes a friend and lover to another boy, Raj, who is an American of Indian descent. Raj's story gives some added depth to the story because his immigrant parents have Old World values that the American born teenager doesn't share. There's some interesting material about the Hindu Vedas and their take on queers.
Raj and Jason deal with their inner turmoil like most high school boys: through sports.
Their teachers and coaches are as understanding as possible, but with sullen teenagers it's hard to get a dialogue going. One of Jason's teammates picks a fight and blackens his eye, but he won't finger the culprit. He just can't bring himself to say: "he beat me up because I'm queer".
It's funny how much this novel reminded me of my own coming out experience. I kept nodding my head and thinking "yes, it was just like that for me, too". Our hero's last attempts to make himself heterosexual brought back a lot of memories: uncomfortable dates with girls, trying to hide boners in the locker room.
This is a very timely book: dealing with contemporary issues in a frank and honest way. It'd be a great gift for a young gay man, or a walk down memory lane for those of us who came out years ago. The family from India and Jason's conservative but well-intentioned family contribute some cultural depth.
If you're gay, this is your own story. Needless to say, everyone winds up happy and well-adjusted in the end, as it should be.
Great work, Robin!

2 comments:

Robin Reardon said...

Hey there -- I'm surprised I'm just coming across this post now, given how long ago you left it. Thanks for the great comments! I'm very glad you liked the book.

My next book, Thinking Straight, is about a Christian gay teen whose parents put him into an "ex-gay" camp to straighten him out. I'd love to see what you think of that one, if you decide to read it.

Thanks again --
-Robin Reardon

Robin Reardon said...

Hey there -- I'm surprised I'm just coming across this post now, given how long ago you left it. Thanks for the great comments! I'm very glad you liked the book.

My next book, Thinking Straight, is about a Christian gay teen whose parents put him into an "ex-gay" camp to straighten him out. I'd love to see what you think of that one, if you decide to read it.

Thanks again --
-Robin Reardon