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Big Black Gay Teens [REPACK]

So when I had trouble forcing myself through Mr. Boswell's fourth novel, ''American Owned Love,'' I wondered if it was my fault. After all, this book offers variants of some of the engaging figures in ''Mystery Ride'': the innocent, superstraight teen-age boy; the dangerously troubled teen-age girl; the girl's mother, still having her own sexual and romantic crises; and the underachieving father, who's rock-bottom reliable. But in that clunky title I seemed to hear an ax being ground, and the first few pages made me suspicious. Why is the Rio Grande running coal black in the middle of the night through Persimmon, N.M.? How can the free spirit Gay Schaefer and her teen-age daughter, Rita, tell it's black, with or without the help of that portentous blue moon? And why would they plunge into inky water, even though they don't smell chemicals? I smelled magic realism.

big black gay teens


Unless I missed something, we never do find out why the river runs black. True, 300-odd pages later a pornographic magazine is thrown into the same river, ''leaving a black trail in the water as the ink washed out.'' (Magic realism again? Or some printing process of nearly miraculous cheesiness?) But what is this arcane correspondence supposed to mean? Maybe it's some vaguely deflationary irony, like the several secrets that turn out to be ostentatiously unimportant: the improbably unopenable kitchen cabinet, which we finally learn is full of old packs of Luckies, or the identity of Rita's natural father, which seems to make no difference to anybody. At least I think the point of these secrets is their ultimate insignificance; offhand I can't recall a novel where I had more trouble figuring out what I was supposed to think or feel. And maybe Mr. Boswell wanted this response; ''Mystery Ride,'' for example, approached Keats's ideal of Negative Capability, the capacity for ''being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.''

Since Mr. Boswell uses Gay's pet catch phrase for his title, I suspect he finds her engaging. Certainly, her gratingly plucky determination to ''reinvent her own life'' doesn't wear as thin as Enrique's naivete (''that big statue in Egypt, the Sphincter or whatever'') and one-note boyish sweetness. Mr. Boswell tries to upgrade Rudy, whose one note is rage, with hints of thwarted promise and desperado existentialism (''The weight of the gun in his hand matched precisely the weight of the future''). But he seems more constructed than imagined -- like Rita, a case study in operatic estheticism (''I used to be black inside, like the river that night, but now I'm pure''). I'd trade all these characters for a single Dulcie Landis. And though I won't give away the ending, be forewarned: it's a none-too-subtle reworking of the Eden myth, complete with naked innocents and proffered fruit, and it's uplifting as all get-out.

More than 4 in 10 LGBT youth feel as though they live in unaccepting communities, according to the Human Rights Campaign, and they are two times as likely to report being physically assaulted than their heterosexual counterparts. Youth struggling with sexual identity are also four times more likely to attempt suicide, the Trevor Project reports. The statistics are even worse among Hispanic and black youth.

Betsy: Chris has a very difficult time dealing with his father. I'd say this is quite typical (I'm thinking of my two sons and their father. It wasn't/isn't as bad as the Chris/father scenario but there is lots of wariness related to being "judged".) I find this a very strong part of your book, especially the scene after Chris stays out all night with Swift and then he and his dad have the "breakfast talk". Do you think all parents and teens live on different planets?

Three teens, connected by their parents' bad choices, tell in their own voices of their lives and loves as Shane finds his first boyfriend, Mikayla discovers that love can be pushed too far, and Harley loses herself in her quest for new experiences.

A chorus of men who died of AIDS observes and yearns to help a cross-section of today's gay teens who navigate new love, long-term relationships, coming out, self-acceptance, and more in a society that has changed in many ways. 041b061a72


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