Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nothing Compares to Love

Expected Publication:  March 1st, 2013 (Originally published November 1st, 1993)
When Love Comes to Town
By: Tom Lennon
Albert Whitman Teen 
ISBN-13:  9780807589168

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 Loves Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality. 


     Neil Byrne is just about to take his exams and go off to university in the Fall.  He has plenty of great friends, has won the prize for English and seems to be just a regular teenage boy.  But he's been keeping a secret from his ultra-conservative, Catholic friends and family -  Neil is gay.  Now with the future looming in front of him uncertainly, Neil spends most of the summer trying to figure out who he is and what it means to accept himself as he is, with no more lies.  Can Neil tell his family and friends about being gay and will they treat him the same once he has?  This was an interesting book to read.  Apparently, the author was a teacher at a Catholic high school in Ireland.  He wrote under a pseudonym to protect his job and this March will be the first time his novel has been published stateside.  It was interesting to read a book about a teen who loved his family, God and his friends, but was unwilling in the end to give up who he was to make them happy.  I really identified with Neil's struggles and greatly respected him for deciding to come out in the end, even though he knew it more than likely wouldn't be well received.  Hie Mother did surprise me, and his sister Jackie.  The rest of his family though, really proved the stereotypes of the 'good' Christians.  His relationship with Shane and his crush on Ian, his new found friend Daphne/Eddie's battle with AIDS - all of it was well-done and realistic.  The ending had me wanting to cry.  Overall, it crosses the generational gap pretty well.  I'm a couple removed and I could still relate, even with slightly dated technological references within the book.  All the same, the themes never get outdated.  Highly recommended to questioning/gay/friends or family of gay teens.  Or even just for someone who wants a good read! I didn't love it, but it was definitely worthy of my time.  :)

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is March 1st, 2013.**

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