Apparently Rafe had it easy: the only son of hippies parents, when he came out, his mother took the presidency of the local PFLAG chapter and his father started to record all his life like he was the most amazing kid in the world, and not just another ordinary teenager. After 2 years of that life, Rafe needs a break, even if that means attending an all-boys boarding school almost at the other side of the country. The lame excuse to his parents is that he would have better chances to be admitted to Harvard, the real reason is that Rafe wants to wipe out his first years as a gay nerdy teenager and starting over like a straight jock. Easier to say than do, above all when you fall in love with your jock best friend who believes you are only bi-curios and fighting with this strange attraction to your best friend.
What is probably the best thing of this novel is that, even if things are not easy for Rafe, and he is doing a huge mess-up of his life, the overall tone of the story is not dramatic; while reading it, I know Rafe was in for a huge disappointment, that he really couldn’t deny being gay simply because he was adopting a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but even like that, I was sure Rafe was strong enough to move over to that. The strength in Rafe derived by his family, that strange, odd, embarrassing family that nevertheless loved him unconditionally.
Other than the family there is also the school and the teaching staff, in particular the English teacher, who didn’t force Rafe out of the closet (even if Rafe is insisting he is not back in the closet), but used a writing therapy, letting Rafe think about his past life, the mistakes he did, but also the good experiences he had when he was openly gay and not afraid of it. I sort of like this part better, I think the author wanted to point out important moment of Rafe’s life, life-changing steps, and instead of having those somewhat boring Q&A session at the end of the book (that most of the time I don’t read) he put the marker all along the novel, to let you stop and think about it at the same time when Rafe had to do that.
Openly Straight is a nice, warm and comforting YA novel, recommended to young and not so young readers.
Amazon: Openly Straight
Amazon Kindle: Openly Straight
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (May 28, 2013)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott
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