3W, 3H (audio)
Grimsley, Jim, (c. 1995). Dream Boy. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 195 pages, $15.49
A tale of first love between two teenage boys in the rural south encompassing the pain, confusion and joy of a budding, yet forbidden romance.
Nathan, an intelligent sophomore, begins his school year in a new town at a new school. This is nothing new for him since his family moves around the rural south a lot. This time they get to live in the country next to a family whose son, Roy, is two years older than Nathan, plays baseball and drives the school bus. Roy and Nathan discover that their attraction for each other is both beautiful and exciting yet they know they must keep it a secret.
Through the overhanging cloud of Nathan’s abusive father and Roy’s misunderstandings and denial, Grimsley captures the awe of first love and the natural relationship that grows from those feelings. Yet society doesn’t see things so clearly and both Nathan and Roy must figure out if they can hold on to each other.
Grimsley writes beautifully and pulls the reader into the story immediately. The tone of the work is lyrical and skillfully portrays the intimate thoughts and actions of a sensitive boy that has to deal with a lot of ugliness in his world. Roy’s character clearly exemplifies the typical high school boy who fears the feelings that come so naturally to him when he meets Nathan. The story has two definite settings with pacing to match. The first 100 pages exemplifies the title and seems almost dream-like in its telling. The second half of the novel, which takes place during a camping trip, becomes taught with tension, mystery and violence leaving the reader a bit befuddled by the ending.
Stonewall Book Awards: Barbara Gittings Literature Award
A House Is Not A Home by James Earl Hardy. Mark by Lonnie Coleman.
Book Discussion Questions:
How does the title capture the tone of the story?
Do you think the characters are believable in their actions and reactions?
There’s a definite split in the narrative. Was this essential for the story’s outcome?
Reasons for selection:
I am new to the GLBTQ genre so need to catch up to understand what is good and not-so-good in these stories and the issues that appeal to the genre’s fans. Grimsley’s novel struck me as a good place to start. It is beautifully written and deals with two social situations that are polar opposites of each other but that many tend to be view in the same light; a tragic display of society’s fear of differences.