elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

John Donovan (1928 - April 29, 1992)

John Donovan (1928-1992) was the President of the Children's Book Council from 1967-1992 and the author of several young adult novels. He pushed for new authors to be published as well as rallying towards new and challenging subjects to be tackled in the field of children's books. The most well known one of his own books is 1969's I'll Get There, It Better Be Worth The Trip. This book is often cited as being the first mainstream teen novel to deal with homosexuality. It concerns a boy named Davy who feels rejected. His parents are divorced, his mother's an alcoholic and his closest companions are his grandmother and dog. Later in the story he has a brief sexual encounter with one of his male classmates. In the story, this part is told with sensitivity and presented in a way that is not extraordinary. In a sense, it's presented as if this were a natural part of growing up. The book was recently reprinted in 2010 with a new introduction.

Donovan wrote four other novels dealing with characters suffering from loss and loneliness. The oddest of these is Remove Plastic Coating A Little At a Time from 1973. This is a short novel at about 90 pages and concerns the relationship between a young teenager named Harry and a 72 year old homeless lady who is squatting in an abandoned apartment building. Again, sexuality is presented here in a matter of fact manner with Harry's friends casually inviting him to X-rated movies and the like.

Harry feels isolated from his peers and his parents. Living in New York, Harry's parents are having relationship problems and his mother is suffering from depression. His isolation from his family contributes to him meeting Amelia, an eccentric bag lady, in the park. She presents him with an alternative view of life that he admires over what he sees from others in his middle class upbringing. The relationship allows him to feel emotional and bring him into a world of meaningful communication.

His other books include Wild In the World (1971), Good Old James (1974) and Family (1976).

Source: http://discardtreasures.blogspot.it/2011/07/john-donovan.html
Published in 1969 — the year of the Stonewall Riots — John Donovan‘s I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip. was the first Young Adult novel to deal with homosexuality. Ushered into print by the legendary children‘s book editor Ursula Nordstrom (she has been called the Maxwell Perkins of children‘s literature), the novel is an honest, sensitive, funny, sharply written, and very moving coming-of-age novel narrated by a 13-year-old boy who is, most likely, gay.
It‘s a subtle and honest story told by an appealing and confused young man. Again, remember that this novel was published in 1969, just as gays were becoming more visible in this country, standing up for their rights, refusing to be invisible. Donovan‘s book, in that light, is remarkable and daring. But now, with gays more visible in ―mainstream culture‖ than ever before, it is even more remarkable that this eloquent novel still rings true as a portrait of a young gay man, inching toward adulthood, searching for his place in the world. I like to think that Davy got there — and that it was worth the trip. --The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered
Further Readings:

I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip.: 40th Anniversary Edition by John Donovan
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: Flux; 40 Anv edition (September 8, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0738721344
ISBN-13: 978-0738721347
Amazon: I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip.: 40th Anniversary Edition

The 40th anniversary edition of a groundbreaking teen classic

When the grandmother who raised him dies, Davy Ross, a lonely thirteen-year-old boy, must move to Manhattan to live with his estranged mother. Between alcohol-infused lectures about her self-sacrifice and awkward visits with his distant father, Davy’s only comfort is his beloved dachshund Fred. Things start to look up when he and a boy from school become friends. But when their relationship takes an unexpected turn, Davy struggles to understand what happened and what it might mean.

“Shattering… frank… intelligent.”—Horn Book

“This book… should be available wherever young people read.”—New York Times

“Sophisticated… remarkably touching.” —Time magazine

New York Times Best of 1969 Book List

School Library Journal Best of 1969 Book List

This anniversary edition features reflections from Brent Hartinger (Geography Club), Martin Wilson (What They Always Tell Us), and Kathleen T. Horning (Director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center), with a foreword by Stacey Donovan (Dive).

The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered by Tom Cardamone
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Haiduk Press (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 097146863X
ISBN-13: 978-0971468634
Amazon: The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered

The Lost Library: Gay Fiction Rediscovered, edited by Tom Cardamone, includes appreciations by 28 contemporary writers of significant gay novels and short story collections now out of print. The Lost Library includes an essay on reprints of gay literature by Philip Clark. Published in March 2010, it features a cover illustration by Mel Odom.

The Lost Library won the San Francisco Book Festival's gay category for best book of the Spring season and was named one of the 10 Best nonfiction books of 2010 in Richard Labonté's Book Marks column.

More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics

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Tags: author: john donovan, gay classics

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