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Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend

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The book takes place in the span of a single week. On Saturday night, Dylan breaks the news (and Belle's heart). On Sunday, Belle and her best friend Emily (Em) talk it over. By Monday, word of Dylan's sexual preference is all over this small Maine town, and by midweek, Dylan's being threatened and Belle is being bullied because her exboyfriend turned out to be gay -- she's called a "fag hag", among other things. But along the way, Belle receives steady support from Em and from Tom Tanner, yummy soccer star and son of the police chief. And Belle learns that saintly Dylan wasn't so saintly after all (which is where my personal dissonance with the backcopy comes from) and that most people are essentially good (including some of the adults in the book -- most notably her science and German teachers). The novel concludes on the following Friday night at a school dance.

If you remember my Tips on Why You Should Add Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend to your must-buy list (,  then you already know some of the other stuff in the novel. Like that Belle has a seizure disorder, and lives in constant fear of having a seizure at school. And that Belle and Em run the school's Amnesty International chapter. And that Dylan and another boy get picked on for being gay, and that Belle gets picked on because Dylan turned out to be gay.

The actual story is about how Belle gets her heart broken and her eyes opened and finds hope and love, all within a week's time. The REAL story, which is never once preached, is how people with seizure disorders are normal folks who have to cope with prejudice, how people who are homosexual are still marginalized and/or threatened in our society, and how teens who come out need support and love, and (surprisingly), about the degradation of constitutional rights in the United States due to the so-called Patriot Act and other decisions by the administration. And the thing is, you're never told to come to any particular conclusions. It's just that, knowing the characters as you do, those conclusions are obvious.

This one is my pick to win the Schneider Family Book Award in the teen category for next year. I'll be tuning in to the ALA announcements as I always do, and hoping to hear that my friend Carrie Jones won an award. Maybe even two.
#1 - August 23, 2007, 08:41 AM


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