by Brent Hartinger
May 25, 2003.
Harper Tempest, New York, 2003. 226 pages.
is about feeling different, about social
rejection and isolation in the vicious atmosphere of a modern high
When Russel Middlebrook finds out that he’s not the only
gay person at his high school, his new friends want to get together
without anyone learning their secret. So they decide to form
a club and give it the most boring name they can imagine. That
way, they don’t have to worry about anyone else joining.
One of his new friends is a star player on the baseball team,
and Russel joins the team to be with him. However, the popular
jocks he now feels accepted by are the worst people in the school when
it comes to tormenting Brian Bund, the school reject. Besides
that, he’s got a new challenge in keeping his big secret when his best
friend begs him to go on some double dates, and it’s clear that Russel’s
date wants sex.
got a good review in Horn Book Magazine
So I was curious about it. I didn’t plan to review it, but
somehow, that felt like Russel not wanting to be seen with Brian.
No, I don’t agree with the lifestyle choices presented in this book.
Aside from the issue of homosexuality, I think that God asks us to
save sex for marriage because that’s the best thing for us. I
feel sorry for teens who don’t wait, because I honestly think their
lives won’t be as happy in the long run.
However, this book is about much bigger themes than sexuality.
It’s about what it’s like to feel alone and isolated and then find
friends. But much more than that, it’s about choosing to do
what’s right even at great cost to yourself.
Don’t think that the one star means that this book isn’t
tremendously well-written. It only means that I do have reservations
about recommending it. My reservations in this case are that
this book is obviously not for everyone. I would be hesitant to
give it even to middle school students, but I do think that most high
school students are mature enough to understand the deeper themes being
I firmly believe that reading is all about being able to
see the world from different people’s perspectives, being able to
put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You can’t get much more
different from me than the character of Russel Middlebrook, and I think
my life was enriched by seeing the world, for a couple of hundred pages,
through his eyes.
Reviews of other books by Brent Hartinger:
Project Sweet Life
The Last Chance Texaco
comment: A reader gives this Five Stars, and says, "It's a very
good book that talks about how a young boy's life is as a gay teenager."
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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