Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary.
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication Date: April 16th 2013 (first published November 1st 1993 by O’Brien Press)
Source: ARC Provided by Publisher via Netgalley
Goodreads Summary: 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. First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Love Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality.
Neil Byrne is a star player of his rugby team at school, easy-going and a clown at times, he’s your regular high school guy. But that’s what you see in the outside, because there is more to him than what the eye shows. He likes guy since he was a ten-year-old. But in 1990’s Ireland a lot of people consider it a disease and rather take the news like someone is going to die instead of what it really is, a sexual preference (or sexual orientation). In this story, we see the struggles and problems Neil starts to go through once he decides to tell the truth little by little and going to a gay pub. One thing is for sure, it isn’t easy.
When I requested this ARC, for some reason I confused it with another book and didn’t know it was about a gay guy. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against them. It was just a bit weird because I’ve never read a book like that, which made me be more interested, especially since it deals a lot with psychology and emotions; I love those things in a book.
It didn’t disappoint. While reading I often thought of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. They are two whole different stories yet deal with the misunderstanding of some people, plus the writing style was one so different and much more engaging than the ones of this millennium. I was hooked from the first page, I couldn’t put it down. It’s in third person and I usually don’t like it much, but here it’s delivered in a way that you don’t feel like reading it in that kind of narrative, for the ones who’re really picky in that like me. Also, the way the author wrote, it made it even more interesting. There were even some parts in italics written from Neil’s first person view with short and sometimes confusing sentences. Some may see it was a weakness in the narrative, but it gave the story a more realistic feel because we think like that, in short and unfinished sentences most of the time.
The characters were amazing. Each one played an important paper in the story even if they appeared momentarily. We see how each person plays a part in the situation where Neil was. His parents didn’t understand him, even if they did love him, they were your typical parents wanting “what’s best for you,” or in other words deciding your future. The same with the other characters, each one was equally important as Neil is and made in such a great way…
Now the part I’ve been wanting to write about since I started the book. Homosexuality is a strong topic even in this more liberal age. People are more acceptant (accepting?) than they used to be, and we can still see a lot of conflicts regarding this. Neil here is between the wall and the sword, thinking there must be something wrong with him. Everywhere people talk bad about what he really is, and everyone judged him without knowing the real situation. I consider that everyone is free to chose whatever they want, that’s why we have freewill. Why insult, attack, and spit on someone who is as human as you are? Why preach of doing God’s will and goodness if you’re going to treat them in all the wrong ways? It makes me really angry how some people can be so inconsiderate. It’s okay that they have their opinions, but there’s a limit to your words. Yes, there’s the freedom of speech, but there are also morals, and I don’t consider to treat someone bad to make them feel like scum and want to die something nice my parents would teach me.
Neil in the story has to deal with his own friends talking bad of gays, insulting them and making even Neil laugh at them. He’s torn inside between telling the truth or keeping it hidden. He’s torn between what he wants, often praying to Jesus to make him stop liking guys and be “normal”. He even considers suicide! That’s also wrong, but to find yourself in that situation is really strong, and no one should face those things. And whom are to blame? People that don’t respect other’s choices and preferences. Whatever you like, go for it, as long as you don’t make yourself or others something wrong, go for it. You are free of that.
And that’s why I loved this book, because it makes you reflect on those things. The story might have been from the 1990’s, at least 20 years ago, and yet I can still see these things nowadays. Don’t you think it’s a little bit mad? Recently on Facebook I saw a picture that says that Ancient Native American tribes treated same sex relationships with utmost respect and were thought to be sacred. (https://www.facebook.com/didyouknowblog) If they respected them, why can’t we too? Treat them as equals? Or at least not look down at them with superiority and spit on their faces?
(cheers that I finally found a perfect place to put this GIF! :D)
Back to the book… So yeah, basically, this is a great read. Whatever your sexual preferences, this is a must read. It makes you think a lot because it not only touches the themes of homosexuality, but bullying, family relationships, friends, and your future as you want it. It also gives a message of staying strong because after the storm comes the rainbow. Not everything is bad. In Pandora’s jar, with all that was left outside, monsters, diseases and horrible things, the only thing that always remains in the end, is hope.
Also, ha, this book is probably a banned book, challenged book, or with things that are considered “bad”. And I am proud I read it because I read whatever I wanted. A great read, honestly. If you loved The Perks by Stephen Chbosky, read this. Twisted good characters? This has them. Humor and romance? This too. Want to cry for that confusing ending? Oh yeah, I did. There are really emotional parts in this.
Love love love it. So glad I picked this book.
Rating: 4.5 stars
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