"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
Around the Year Reading Challenge Item #36: An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
Although this book suffers a bit for feeling like a "first novel" (some awkward transitions, shallow development of secondary characters, a twist I could see coming), there is a lot to like about it, too. Some might find it off-putting, but I personally liked the way it melded sci-fi elements into a story that otherwise felt like a realistic YA (a medical procedure that erases bad memories). This makes it read a little more like "magical realism" ("sci-fi realism?") or like the Leteo memory erasing procedure is more metaphorical than speculative.
Even though I saw the twist coming, I liked that when it came, it answered questions I had been asking myself through the first half of the book. I also appreciate that this book examines the intersection of social class and homophobia. In some ways, this book feels somewhat "behind the times," with its central conflict being a fear of coming out even as the Supreme Court had already legalized same-sex marriage before its publication. Would this book's central premise have rang more true if it were published more than ten years ago? Yet, I think this sense that I, as an adult, middle-class, married, white woman has that it is now "safe" for people to come out is based on ignorance of how rampant homophobia remains in certain communities, and this book drives home the struggle of being gay in an impoverished, urban neighborhood. It's rare for YA books to tackle class in a way that isn't tied irrevocably to the plot (i.e., parent loses a cushy job and family has to relocate), but here Aaron's family's poverty, while somewhat tied to the plot, was also just accepted, a fact of life that was driven home every time he went home to his apartment in which him and his brother slept in the living room or every time he played games with his friends that did not require a single purchased accessory.
The book isn't perfect, but you get the sense reading it that the author absolutely knows what he is talking about, and this, too, keeps it from feeling "dated" even as attitudes toward sexuality continue to evolve. I think this is a book that would still bring a sense of understanding to teens coming to grips with their own sexual orientations, and provides the heartbreaking insight the rest of the world may need to support them.