Coming to terms with being gay is difficult enough, particularly as a teenager. For sixteen-year-old Jericho Jiles, whose devoutly Christian parents have brought him up to believe the Bible’s word is law, it’s an even greater struggle. During the course of the novel, as his attraction to the same sex becomes harder to ignore, he is forced to question not only his sexuality, but everything his family stands for and the religion he has lived by all his life.
Things are going well for Jerry. He has loving parents, a sweet girlfriend, and a spot on the school basketball team. If he and his best friend Mac have a habit of getting into scrapes, it’s never anything too serious. Then Dylan Cussler moves to Webster’s Glenn with his boyfriend, stirring up the conservative neighborhood with his campaigns for gay rights, and Jerry and Mac’s trouble-making takes a darker turn. Dylan’s unchristian ways don’t belong in their community. He must be taught a lesson, and the two boys plan to trash Dylan’s home, a plan that goes horribly awry when Dylan catches them in the act.
After fleeing the scene, Jerry is terrified the police will arrest him at any moment. When nothing happens, however, his fear gives way to shame, until he is compelled to return to Dylan’s house and apologize. Jerry certainly doesn’t expect Dylan’s forgiveness, or that talking to him will open the floodgates to his own doubts about himself and his feelings for his friend Hutch. But he isn’t allowed to feel this way; the Bible says so. As he swings between his growing love for Hutch and the security of his relationship with his girlfriend, Jerry is eaten up with guilt and confusion. Will he ever reconcile his religion with these new discoveries about his sexuality?
This is an authentic coming of age story that follows one boy’s journey to find himself. The author does a wonderful job of bringing across the opposing viewpoints, as well as showing Jerry’s hard-fought battle to reach his own conclusions. There’s no denying Jerry is a brilliant protagonist. He has his fair share of faults, and due to some of his actions, isn’t always easy to like. Yet, for all this, he has a good heart that made it impossible for me not to identify with him and his turmoil.
If you enjoy realistic teen novels featuring true-to-life characters, and are interested in the conflict that exists between homosexuality and religion, I can recommend this book.
Written for the Boys on the Brink Blog