Thinking Straight

Reviewed by guest blogger Kaye Moore

Robin Reardon, May 2008. Taylor Adams is an evangelical Christian who is totally down with Jesus Christ.  He is also gay, and completely comfortable with that.  However, since his family and small conservative hometown are not down with gay Christians (or gays in general), he is not loud and proud.  He is quietly proud.  Taylor is madly in love with his boyfriend Will, and after his parents try to fix him up with one Christian girl too many, he finally snaps and comes out to his parents.  Their response is to send him to a Christian re-education center, where God will “heal” him of his desires.

At the center, which is named Straight to God, secrets start to come out about the dubious successes the center has produced with their gay and lesbian teens, which include suicides and the sexual abuse and murders of these teens by the head pastor.  Luckily for Taylor, he keeps his sanity by being admitted to a secret society of revolutionary Christian teens that discuss the Bible freely and feel that God made gay and lesbian teens on purpose, and there is no sinful mistake there.

One thing I really liked about this book is that the theological ideas of Taylor and his friends were really well-developed, but they still sounded like conversations that kids might actually have.  It seemed surprising to me that Taylor, having been raised in such a gay-unfriendly church, was so self-assured about his relationship with God, but I was willing to think of him that way since he was so smart about it all.  Also, the moderate allies that Taylor and his friends developed showed a fair representation of many mainstream Christians, who may be open but just haven’t challenged old ideas yet.  The villains though?  They were completely over the top.  I couldn’t put this book down, but when I came to the part when the lusty and deranged pastor lassoed Taylor, I think my eyes may have rolled a little.

This book would appeal to teens that enjoy reading about kids in extreme situations, but I think they would have to have some interest in religion, since it pervades every single page of this book.  There are some brief but graphic depictions of oral sex and masturbation, as well as an attempted male rape scene which readers may want to be aware of.   Overall, the title is a quick and compelling read, with likable characters and interesting theology, and recommended for all public library collections.

Reviewed by guest blogger Kaye Moore

This entry was posted in 2008, gay male, guest blogger, problem novel, queer protagonist, religion, Robin Reardon, secondary queer character, sexual violence. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thinking Straight

  1. L.A. Fields says:

    This was the worst book I’d read since Reardon’s first novel, A Secret Edge. You have been excessively kind in this review. One of the first things I disliked was the totally unrealistic use of complicated LOLspeak in everyday conversation–I was in high school four years ago, and nobody talks like that.

    I also disagree that these characters were well-developed, because I could barely keep Taylor’s name straight he was so bland. He was exactly like the main character in A Secret Edge, which was convenient, because the story resolved the same way too: with a pseudo-science article about pheromones that someone Googles changing hearts and minds. It was tired the first time, it was infuriating the second.

    Lastly: you rolled your eyes at the pastor? I posted that scene on LiveJournal’s WeepingCock community for awful descriptions of sex. I was only reading out of spite at that point, so I guess what I’m saying is my full review can be found there:

    I don’t know anyone I dislike enough to recommend they read something by Robin Reardon, and that’s as nicely as I can put it.

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