Tom Lennon's fiction is noted for its understanding of gay politics in modern society and for the sympathetic and honest treatment of the characters it depicts.
'In many ways his work is superior to The Catcher in the Rye' -- The Irish Times * The Irish Times *
Gr 8 Up-On the cusp of his 18th birthday, Neil Byrne nears graduation, wants to study liberal arts instead of engineering as his father expects, and suffers through all the apprehension and agony of being a closeted gay teen. As readers accompany him on his journey of slowly coming out, they are immersed in his struggle amid homophobia and the culture of Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1990s. Neil's pub visits with his "rhyming couplets" of friends evolve into solo trips to local gay bars and clubs where he meets new friends and his eventual first boyfriend. As he draws closer to telling his friends, the tension builds; when Neil comes out to his parents, the intensity of the experience and their initial rejection is palpable. Lennon tells a mostly dark and serious story that is pre-Internet and -mobile phones, offering none of the extended, globalized support of today. Neil is jumped leaving a pub late one night, struggles through a friend's losing battle with AIDS, and is rejected by some of his family and friends. Lennon does well to lighten the story through tender and uplifting moments, and his use of song lyrics and music add to the book's sweet complexity. The near-tragic ending and realistic portrayal of what it would be like to face some of the darker forms of bigotry and rejection make this title a worthwhile addition to most libraries.-Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
An Irish teen slowly comes out as gay in a 20th-anniversary edition of a novel written under a pseudonym, available in the U.S. for the first time. Growing up in the 1990s, Neil Byrne feels lonely and isolated living in Dublin. After he tells a few allies about his sexuality, forms a community at a local gay bar, and starts seeing an attractive older boy, he grows more confident in his identity. Still, Neil fears being rejected by his family and friends if he reveals his secret. Lennon throws a slew of problems in Neil's way, making the novel feel somewhat contrived and instructional. Beyond Neil's fear of being found out, he is beaten up leaving a gay bar, finds out a friend is dying of AIDS, and contemplates suicide. Neil's internal dialogue-including imagined conversations with Jesus Christ-helps readers understand the accumulating pressure he feels. As author James Klise writes in his smart introduction, the book is an important reminder of how many more resources and role models there are for gay teens today. Ages 13-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.