On the cover of this book is a CBC Canada Reads sticker as well as a Governor General’s Literary Award Winner sticker. On the spine, in my local public library, is a young adult sticker. As a result, you might be inclined to pick this up for your teenager. Before you do, consider the following.
Although the story is about a 17-year-old gay boy/girl, younger teens and tweens will be tempted to pick it up. They may not be emotionally prepared for the content. Personally, I would recommend this for 18-year-olds, perhaps 16-year-olds. I know that teenagers can be obsessed with sex, alcohol, and drugs and are able to find anything on the Internet. However, I found this book to be overkill. They talk about masturbating, vaginally and anally, with the crucifixes, Barbie dolls, and drug pipes. They discuss their parents using strap-ons and dressing up in fluffy animal costumes as they secretly go through their parents’ sex toys while stoned on bought or stolen drugs and alcohol. Any sexual act, with any item or any person that you can imagine, is mentioned in the crudest vocabulary possible.
I felt deeply sorry for the gay teenager but was hoping he had plans for something better. Unfortunately he was unable to transcend the shallow, meaninglessness of his environment. As well, after trudging through all this overkill and extreme drama, I was disappointed that the ending was so predictable.
I feel the messages about bullying, isolation, loneliness, self identity, suicide, family violence, goals and dreams, and the artificiality of modern life are lost in the raw vulgarity of the text. Too bad. With less, it could’ve been so much more.