Monday, July 4, 2011

"Young Hearts Run Free."

So Pride Week just wrapped up in my city yesterday with the annual Pride Parade and I was finally able to go. I had an amazing time and I never even noticed that I'd been standing in the same spot for two hours and a half in the sun (good lord, did I ever feel that later). So I thought why not celebrate Pride for just a little while longer?

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez: Lance is gay and has only been in one relationship that ended badly. Sergio is bisexual and only ever had a serious relationship with a girl. Lance doesn't understand bisexuality and thinks it doesn't exist but when he meets Sergio, who he likes and wants to date, things get complicated.

Kimiko is a lesbian and finding that she doesn't want to just be friends with her new friend Allie. Allie has a boyfriend but she can't stop thinking about Kimiko and what it would be like to kiss her.

So this book was a bit problematic for me because I only half liked it. It's not Sanchez's best novel. I'll start with the good things first and then saunter vaguely downwards.

First, I really liked that the novel addressed bisexuality. It's not often addressed in LGBTQ fiction. Nothing is as black and white as being just gay or straight, there is that grey area of bisexuality. 

The second thing I really liked is that the novel featured both male and female relationships. This is the first time that I've encountered a book of this kind, and I hope to see more of it. 

The third thing I enjoyed was the struggle between the main characters and their families. Some had it easy and others didn't and I think it's important to show that because coming out to your family can go either way. It takes guts to be who you are and not everyone is going to agree with it.

My favorite couple of the book had to be Kimiko and Allie. I thought their story was a lot more compelling than the one of Lance and Sergio, which took a turn for the mildly ridiculous towards the end. I suppose I have a thing for self-discovery narratives.

Now to talk about the things I didn't like:

1. Generalizations about relationships with women. Sergio at one point in the book said that girls have less of a need to be right. Ummmm have you met me or any girl for that matter? Because that is not true for all women. I even mentioned this to my friends and they were shocked at how wrong that was. 

2. The Lance and Sergio situation. So much about it made me uncomfortable. Sergio's expectations of Lance contradicted so much of what he supposedly wanted and Lance's inability to understand what being bisexual meant annoyed me. I wanted to sit that kid down and open a dictionary for him. 

3. Overuse of the exclamation mark. That's more a nitpick than anything else but goodness gracious was it overused. Characters can be excited about something. Excitement is natural in a person but a lot of the dialog carried an exclamation mark.

Overall the book is okay but that's just my opinion and I ask you to form your own and read the novel if you're interested in something new.

Also check out the Rainbow Boys series by Alex Sanchez since they were the first young adult fiction novels about homosexuality that I noticed and read at my library. The trilogy follows Jason, Kyle and Nelson as they deal with their respective relationships both romantic and familial, the threat of HIV, coming out and growing up.  A really important series and I think it's Sanchez's best work.

(note: title quote from the Candi Staton song Young Hearts Run Free.)

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