The uncertainty of growing up

peterTITLE = PETER

Author = Kate Walker

Genre = Sexuality, Identity

Interest level = Years 9 and up

Although this novel was written nearly 20 years ago it does not seem dated as the characters and the central situation are all too real. Peter’s passions are motor bikes and photography and he is s killed at both. But he isn’t quite sure where he fits in the world. His dirt biking “friends” are obsessed with proving how macho they are by taking risks, talking rough and labelling anyone who doesn’t fit in as a “poof”. His best mate is obsessed with sex and setting Peter up with a girlfriend. So Peter begins to worry about his own sexuality when he doesn’t seem attracted to these girls and even more so, when he begins to have feelings for his brother’s best friend, David, who happens to be gay. Does this mean Peter is gay?? At 15, when he hasn’t even had sex yet, how is he supposed to know and what will it mean for him if he is gay?? Especially with a father who seems to think gays are in need of a cure (in other words, a good beating). This is a compelling novel as Peter’s dilemma unfolds with increasing urgency and the ending is also realistic. A CBCA short listed book.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Life as an extravaganza

will-grayson-will-graysonTITLE = Will Grayson, Will Grayson

AUTHORS = John Green & David Levithan

GENRE = Relationships, Friendship, Growing up, Sexuality

INTEREST LEVEL = Years 10 and up

As the title indicates, this novel is based on two characters with the same name. John Green’s Will Grayson is rather timid about life (in fact, avoiding emotion and keeping quiet are his basic rules for existence). His best friend (Tiny Cooper) is exuberantly gay, falls in love every hour and is writing a musical extravaganza. David Levithan’s Will Grayson is depressed, moody and gay (although he hasn’t really told anyone this yet, not even his so-called best friend, Maura). Both Will’s meet under unexpected and amusing circumstances; they become intertwined when Tiny becomes the boyfriend of the sad and moody, Other Will. The journey for each Will is a little bumpy but often quite funny and refreshingly uplifting as they both learn that friendship and taking a chance can bring the best rewards…. and the best finale possible for Tiny’s extraordinary “Life of Will” showpiece!

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A brilliant blend of humour and pathos

loose lipsTITLE = LOOSE LIPS

AUTHOR = Chris Wheat

GENRE = HUMOUR, IDENTITY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 11, 12

Vistaview Secondary College seems to be peopled with rather eccentric students: from Zeynap (obsessed with wardrobe neatness), to Matilda (obsessed with dogs), to Angelo (obsessed with Georgia who is obsessed with avoiding Angelo), to Chelsea (obsessed with poking her nose into everyone’s business). Hilarious consequences ensue from all these competing obsessions and there are many truly laugh out loud moments. However, there is also room for more genuine emotion, as we see how family and friends respond as Josh carefully and cautiously reveals to each of them that he is gay. The conversations that follow are sometimes painful, sometimes poignant and sometimes laced with gentle humour. Khiem’s story also provides a counterbalance to some of the humour as this young Vietnamese orphaned refugee struggles to free himself from criminal elements of his community. All in all, a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable novel. (And if you like this one, pick up the sequel in Screw Loose)

Highly Recoomended (dma) *****