12 February 2013

When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon

Release Date: 1 March 2013
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Get a copy! Amazon

Goodreads description:
The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who's gay. It's a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self--and to whom.
My Thoughts...
Sometimes I feel like that straight girl who continually falls in love with (fictional) gay boys. This book is yet another example of me highly enjoying a contemporary, coming-of-age novel about a teenage boy struggling with his sexuality.  Tom Lennon's novel, which has been out on the other side of the pond for some time now, is different than many of the LGBT teen novels that we often read today, but no less poignant for the story that it tells.

Neil is a typical Irish boy, with his star rugby status and popularity.  But he has a secret that could bring his world crashing down around him--he's gay. However, a life hiding in the dark is starting to truly wear on Neil, so he decides to visit a gay bar.  Between coming out to his family and continuing to hide from his friends, Neil walks the line between being comfortable with who he is and sequestering his true self away to a dark, locked room.

I think that what rang so true for me with this is that this is a side of being gay and coming out that I think is still very real for some teens today.  True, there are many more celebrities out today and many more wonderful, fabulous people letting teenagers know that they are not alone and it gets better. But how many young teens struggling with their sexuality are still too scared and alone to become their true selves?

Lennon's novel may be set in the 1990s but it's theme will ring true even today with many readers.  Neil offers a look into the life of a normal, popular teenage boy who must decide what's more important in his life--being normal or being himself.  Fans of contemporary YA fiction, especially with LGBT characters, will definitely enjoy this read.  It has a depth of emotion that was refreshing to read.

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