Well I’m sure most of you have sat inside with the curtains closed, clutching your lucky rabbit’s feet and staying far away from oncoming black cats, what with today being the most unlucky day of the year. So if you’re at home and the smell of sage is clogging up your nostrils to ward off bad omens and you’re finding yourself at a loss, Insight Out! brings you a new feature. Here we have a top-ten list of the books you should read when your own bad luck is getting you down. At the end of the day, no one knows pain like a fictional homosexual, so take a look at my personally handpicked selection and bask in the fact that while you may have got caught in the rain with a defective umbrella and your cell just died, life as you know it will never compare to the sorry literary victims listed below. Read them, and literally, weep!
10 Rainbow Boys – Alex Sanchez
While life is never easy, it seems to be especially hard for Jason, the super-jock just coming to terms with his own sexual identity. Fighting tooth and nail against himself and the homophobic behaviour of his classmates, Jason soon finds himself on the wrong side of the rainbow road, hand in hand with the attractive swimmer Kyle and the fantastically flamboyant Nelson. A bittersweet tale of growing up with a big gay monkey on your back, Rainbow Boys is book one of three of the heart-warming tale of finding not only yourself, but a love to make it worth the ride.
Mary Ann Singleton was not prepared for what she found when she arrived at 28 Barbary Lane, her new life set in the heart of 1970’s San Francisco. The small town girl meets the big city in a raucous tale of finding out the true meaning of love when surrounded by a world you never expected to find. As Mary Ann and her band of misfits strike out into the city, the first in the series of Maupin’s critically acclaimed books joins the young Singleton as she ventures into the unknown, one wide-eyed step at a time.
Losing touch with a childhood friend is something everyone endures, but when Jonathon finds himself back in Bobby’s life in 1980’s New York, he couldn’t be happier to rekindle their companionship. While the out and proud Jonathon moves in with Bobby and the eccentric Clare, he finds himself thrust in the middle of the world’s most foreign family set up. As Bobby and Clare introduce a baby into their lives, what follows is a breathtaking account of what happens when the word ‘family’ takes on a different meaning.
After a shared sexual abuse experience in 1970’s Kansas at the hand of their baseball coach, Neil and Brian are left scarred in different ways. While Neil forges himself a life in the midst of dangerous sexual behaviour and becomes a male prostitute, Brian comes to terms with his past by burying it in a theory of alien abduction. When a mutual friend bridges the gap between the boys, Neil takes Brian back to the night of their shared abuse, recounting the memories of what really happened all those years ago.
High School sweethearts Travis and Craig are deeply in love, two oddly shaped pieces fitting together to form a perfect one. But when life jumps in between them and they find themselves at different colleges on different coasts, their love falters and gets left behind. Jump forward to the two men all grown up in their lives, and Kluger proves that the first love is the strongest, as the two men battle to find each after their years of separation to see if that first love could stand the test of time.
And now the top 5 countdown!
While not essentially a gay story, the book does feature some incredibly well crafted homosexual characters. The story follows Charlie, a severely traumatised young man with some very deep rooted social issues as he embarks on the high school experience. Written as letters to a friend, the story chronicles the journey Charlie takes, hand in hand with his new friends Sam and Patrick, all the way back to the experiences that haunted him in his childhood.
After the sweeping success of ‘Running With Scissors’, the torrid recounting of his childhood, Burroughs’ story continues into his twenties, an ad-exec with a brain for business and a mind for the decadent. This story is a gritty, real-life account of the weight of his early years, faced with loss and overindulgence and a dismal road that lead him back to sobriety. Not to be missed by anyone who loves the acerbic and no-holds-barred style of the incredible author.
Book one of the ‘Waiting For Forever’, and adapted into adult fiction from its origins at the ‘Little Boy Lost’ series, author JP Barnaby’s alter ego begins the tale of Alabama high school boys Brian and Jamie as they set out to experience all that their love for each other offers. When Jamie’s religious mother discovers their love, the two are ripped apart, Brian left exposed and outed and having to face the horrific violence of being gay in Alabama without his first love to help him.
If you’ve read my review of this series, you will know the gleaming respect I have for author Jay Bell and his ‘Something Like…’ series. This is the third book in the series, following the life of Jace, a man with a heart of gold as he sets out to try to find love when he fears he will die alone. The story is a breathtaking ride through the heartbreaking connection with his first love Victor, all through college and into his adult years by the side of his husband Ben. I could barely finish for crying so hard, the story so deftly written I was blown away in awe.
Well I think we all saw this coming, knowing the obscenely high regard I hold for this writer. The second in the ‘Tales from Foster High’ novels, we are afforded the extreme privilege of seeing Kyle and Brad through the Christmas break from Foster High. While their love grows and their friends increase, tragedy sweeps them up into a frenzy of teenage angst aimed at the bigoted system that reigns over their school. But leave it to Kyle, Kyle always finds a way. The story is the most sublimely well crafted and heartbreaking book I have ever read. It is awarded my favourite book of the EVER, and if you are not familiar with the author, then I suggest you look him up , stat!
So that’s my suggestions for this wicked Friday 13th. Take a break from the stresses of your life and let the books guide you. If you have half a heart, let it be broken by some of the greatest authors I have ever had the honour of reading.