Fiction by Author: T-Z

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Taylor, William Blue Lawn
From Publishers Weekly

Australian humorist
Taylor turns to serious subject matter in this emotionally charged story of love between two teenage boys. His accurate, nuanced writing shows rather than tells of the awkward advances and skittish retreats of 15-year-old David Mason as he struggles to understand his attraction to slightly older Theo Meyer. David feels like he is entering a foreign place when he visits the more outspoken Theo and his Polish grandmother (who insists David call her "Gretel"), yet the way David feels when he is with Theo seems even more alien to him. Being a rugby star at school ceases to be important, and David quits the team. He spends his time with Theo helping to landscape his grandmother's yard. The relationship between the two boys is cut short before it can fully develop physically (Gretel sends Theo back to live with his mother). Although David is devastated, it is clear that he will survive and continue to grow into an individual as unique and remarkable as the "blue lawn" surrounding Gretel's home.


Van Dijk, Lutz Damned Strong Love
When the Nazis overran Poland in the fall of 1939, fifteen-year-old Stefan K.'s father was sent off to a German labor camp.  now, in the tense days of occupation, Stefan scrambles to help take care of his family.  Yet when his brother, Mikolai, takes him out after curfew to celebrate his sixteenth birthday, Stefan makes a life-changing discovery: he yearns for men the way his brother does for women.  As he juggles his time between his day job at a bakery and his evening work in the theater, Stefan becomes more aware of his desires.  And then he meets Willi, his one true love.

Everything about Stefan's love affair with Willi is damned.  They are both men.  Willi is an Austrian airman, a Nazi soldier.  Stefan's brother is actively fighting the Germans in the Polish Resistance.  Yet Stefan and Willi's love sees no boundaries of nation, race, or gender.  It is too strong to deny.  And too passionate to survive.  When the Gestapo discovers their affair, not only their love but their lives are in great danger.

Based on the true story of Stefan K., who has written a letter to readers at the end of book, Damned Strong Love is a novel that shows the power and importance of love even as it describes the terrible price of intolerance and hatred.  Stefan and Willi's love was damned, but it was strong; Lutz van Dijk's powerful and humane novel is their legacy.


Walker, Kate Peter
Pressured by his peers and society to conform to the stereotyped macho image, fifteen-year-old Peter feels both confused and repelled. His confusion and his horror increase when he finds himself attracted to his brother's best friend, David, who is gay. Here is a daring, exceptionally honest novel about sexuality and the need to be true to oneself. Peter shares his every muddle and perception with us, and his candor just might help us find our own way.


Warren, Patricia Nell The Front Runner

Harlan Brown is a tough, conservative track coach—hiding from his past at a small college.

Billy Sive is a brilliant young runner who is homosexual—and doesn’t mind who knows it.

When they fall in love, they will enter a race against hate and prejudice that takes them to the ’76 Olympics and a shocking, shattering conclusion.


Watts, Lia Finding H. F.
Abandoned by her mother and raised by her loving but religiously zealous grandmother, 16-year-old Heavenly Faith Simms (H.F. for short) has never felt like she belonged anywhere. When she finds her mother's address in a drawer, She and her best friend, Bo, an emotionally repressed gay boy, hit the road in Bo's scrap heap of a car and head south to Florida where she is determined to start a new life with the mom she has never known.


Wersba, Barbara Whistle Me Home
Noli is in love with TJ, she has been for the past five months, and probably will be for the rest of her life.  But now all she can do is avoid him, leave his letters unanswered, and his presents ignored.  Noli has felt more for TJ than she may ever feel for anyone.  But staying away from him is the most courageous thing she has ever attempted.


Weyr, Garret My Heartbeat
Ellen loves Link and James. Her older brother and his best friend are the only company she ever wants. She knows they fight, but she makes it a policy never to take sides. She loves her brother, the math genius and track star. She is totally, madly in love with James, his face full of long eyelashes and hidden smiles. "When you grow out of it," James teases her, "you will break my heart."

Ellen knows she"ll never outgrow it. She"ll always love James just the way she"ll always love Link. Then someone at school asks if Link and James might be in love with each other. A simple question.

Link refuses to discuss it. James refuses to stay friends with a boy so full of secrets. Ellen"s parents want Link to keep his secrets to himself, but Ellen wants to know who her brother really is. When is curiosity a betrayal? And if James says he loves her, isn"t that just another way of saying he still loves Link?

My Heartbeat is a fast, furious story in which a quirky triangle learns to change its shape and Ellen, at least, learns the limits of what you can ever know about whom you love.


White, Edmund A Boy's Own Story
An instant classic upon its original publication, A Boy's Own Story is the first of Edmund White's highly acclaimed trilogy of autobiographical novels that brilliantly evoke a young man's coming of age and document American gay life through the last forty years.

The nameless narrator in this deeply affecting work reminisces about growing up in the 1950s with emotionally aloof, divorced parents, an unrelenting sister, and the schoolmates who taunt him. He finds consolation in literature and his fantastic imagination. Eager to cultivate intimate, enduring friendships, he becomes aware of his yearning to be loved by men, and struggles with the guilt and shame of accepting who he is. Written with lyrical delicacy and extraordinary power, A Boy's Own Story is a triumph.


Wieler, Diana Bad Boy
From Publishers Weekly

Full of action and dramatic tension, this story set in
Canada reveals the problems of a high school hockey player during his first year on a Triple A team. A. J. Brandiosa's elation in making the Cyclones is undercut by the fear he will not measure up to the other players. The 17-year-old's hot temper and aggressiveness in the game soon bring him the wrong kind of notoriety. Trying to dispel his reputation for being a "bad boy" on the ice is not the only challenge A. J. faces. Even more difficult is his struggle to accept that his best friend and teammate, Tully Brown, is gay. After A. J.'s initial shock over this news wears off, the boy begins to question his own sexuality.


Williams, Bett Girl Walking Backwards
Skye wants what all teenagers want--to survive high school. She lives in Southern California, though, which is making that difficult. Her mother has fallen victim to the pseudo-New Age culture and insists on dragging her to consciousness-raising workshops and hypnotists. As if this weren't difficult enough, Skye falls in love with Jessica, a troubled gothic punk girl who cuts herself regularly with sharp objects. When she finds her boyfriend having sex with Jessica in a bathroom stall at a rave, her romantic illusions collapse and she has to face the fact that she's been running away from her mother's insanity. Right when things look their worst though, Skye is helped by Mol, a pagan who becomes her true friend, and Lorri, a graceful volelyball player with whom she finds real love. From them she learns how to feel authentic emotions in a culture of poseurs and New Age charlatans. In this anti-coming-of-age novel, where growing up is irrelevant, this is the best gift of all.


Williams, Tamara Truth and Lies
From School Library Journal

Erin arrives at Oshawa Secondary one morning to learn that her best friend and fellow art student, Marcel, has been severely beaten and is in a coma. Everyone assumes that he is a victim of gay bashing, but when school officials and the police seem to put the crime on the back burner, Erin makes a promise to Marcel's mother to find out who committed it. Her friend Amy and Amy's religious fundamentalist boyfriend try to discourage her from the investigation as does Jon, her dope-smoking, prejudiced boyfriend, but the teen is determined to find out who attacked her friend.

Betty S. Evans,
Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield


Winterson, Jeannette Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Jeanette is a bright and rebellious orphan who is adopted into an evangelical household in the dour, industrial North of England and finds herself embroidering grim religious mottoes and shaking her little tambourine for Jesus.  But as this budding missionary comes of age, and comes to terms with her unorthodox sexuality, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household dissolves.  Jeanette’s insistence on listening to the truths of her own heart and mind—and on reporting them with wit and passion—makes for an unforgettable chronicle of an eccentric, moving passage into adulthood.


Wittlinger, Ellen Hard Love
Since his parents' divorce, John's mother hasn't touched him, her new fiancé wants them to move away, and his father would rather be anywhere than at Friday night dinner with his son. It's no wonder John writes articles like "Interview with the Stepfather" and "Memoirs from Hell." The only release he finds is in homemade zines like the amazing Escape Velocity by Marisol, a self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian." Haning around the Boston Tower Records for the new issue of Escape Velocity, John meets Marisol and a hard love is born.

While at first their friendship is based on zines, dysfunctional families, and dreams of escape, soon both John and Marisol begin to shed their protective shells. Unfortunately, John mistakes this growing intimacy for love, and a disastrous date to his junior prom leaves that friendship in ruins. Desperately hoping to fix things, John convinces Marisol to come with him to a zine conference on Cape Cod. On the sandy beaches by the Bluefish Wharf Inn, John realizes just how hard love can be.

With keen insight into teenage life, Ellen Wittlinger delivers a story of adolescence that is fierce and funny -- and ultimately transforming -- even as it explores the pain of growing up.


Woodson, Jacqueline From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun
Melanin Sun's mother has some big news: she's in love with a woman. Now he has many decisions to make: Should he stand by his mother even though it could mean losing his friends? Should he abandon the only family he's ever known? Either way, Melanin Sun is about to learn the true meaning of sacrifice, prejudice, and love.


Yates, Bart Leave Myself Behind
Meet seventeen-year-old Noah York, the hilariously profane, searingly honest, completely engaging narrator of Bart Yates's astonishing debut novel.  With a mouth like a truck driver and eyes that see through the lies of the world, Noah is heading into a life that's only getting more complicated by the day.

His dead father is fading into a snapshot memory.  His mother, the famous psycho-poet, has relocated them from Chicago to a rural New England town that looks like an advertisement for small-town America==a bad advertisement.  he can't seem to start a sentence without using the "f" word.  And now, the very  house he lives in is coming apart at the seams--literally--torn down bit by bit as he and his mother renovate the old Victorian.  but deep within the walls lie secrets from a previous life--mason jars stuffed with bits of clothing, scraps of writing, old photographs--disturbing clues to the mysterious existence of a woman who disappeared decades before.  While his mother grows more obsessed and unsettled by the discovery of these homemade reliquaries, Noah fights his own troubling obsession with the boy next door, the enigmatic J.D.  It is J.D. who begins to quietly anchor Noah to his new life.  J.D., who is hiding terrible, haunting pain behind an easy smile and a carefree attitude.

Soon, the boys' tentative attraction to each other blossoms into a very real love, one that will shatter the manicured façade of small-town civility and reveal the cruelties and betrayals hiding carefully behind the emotional walls constructed by husbands and wives, mothers and sons, friends and neighbors.  And as Noah makes one last startling discovery within the old house, he will come face-to-face with a secret bigger than any heart should have to hold, and a truth more healing than he ever could have hoped for.

Par Portnoy, part Holden Caufield, never less than truthful, and always fully human, Noah York is a touching and unforgettable character.  His story is one of hope and heartbreak, love and redemption, of holding on to old wounds when new skin is what's needed, and of the power of growing up whole once every secret has been set free.


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