My only problem with this story is the entire Deus Ex Machina at the end, but isn t that the point Taylor Adams is a sixteen year old gay high school student who is head over heels in love with his first boyfriend Will Unfortunately the joy that he feels about his first romance is not shared by his parents They are devout, fundamentalist Christians, and they thus believe homosexuality to be an abomination In an effort to cure Taylor of his homosexual proclivities, they elect to send their son to a six week, faith based, behavior modification program called Straight to God.
This is the second of author Robin Reardon s books that I ve read, and I am quick to admit that she is an impressive story teller Her ability to get inside the head of her gay male protagonist is remarkably realistic, and her development of complex yet likable characters creates an interesting and memorable read In this particular story she uses a narrative arc to transform characters who initially appear to be a certain way but eventually are revealed to contradict this first impression.
Reardon also weaves together two extremely paradoxical viewpoints into a story which ultimately challenges the assumptions of both arguments She craftily challenges fundamentalists to re examine their condemnation of homosexuals, and she gently urges gays to try to understand the motives which fuel these harsh, fundamentalist judgements.
Although there were some plot elements which I did not find to be particularly plausible, I sincerely regard this book to be one of the best I have read in terms of its presentation of how people of faith choose to perceive sexual orientation It certainly would be one of the first books that I would recommend to someone who is struggling to reconcile their faith with their affectional identity It could also be immensely helpful to the religious family member of a gay person who has just come out to them.
I was most disturbed by the methodology that the program employed to brainwash and control its residents One example is the use of what they referred to as the safe zone in which the inmate was required to remain mute for a period of hours or days This prevented them from ever questioning authority or expressing any opposing opinion It also created feelings of frustration and helplessness, quite the opposite of the safe atmosphere it was supposed to provide I was also a bit annoyed by the manner in which the religious establishment eventually evolved to a place of pseudo acceptance of gay identity They ultimately conclude that homosexuality used to be a sin, but it is not anyThis sort of rationalization does not explain why God would ever create someone to be gay in the first place And their insistence upon protecting the sanctity of marriage by disallowing gays to marry is also contradictory in that they continue to condemn sexual relations outside of marriage.
Perhaps the important reality is that the process of reexamination had begun At least some of the fundamentalists were able to allow themselves to rethink their staid opinions and challenge their previous assumptions.
Over all, I loved the book, and do not hesitate to recommend it I m anxiously waiting to see what future work this author has in store for us Five stars.
Robin Reardon has taken on a hugely important subject in her new book, Thinking Straight Taylor Adams, a teen who starts out the book with his head pretty well in place, has parents who think differently about their son s well adjusted outlook on life As the story begins they have sent him to Straight To God, a program that prides itself on fixing teens problems, including getting young men and women to overcome homosexuality Despite his circumstances and justifiable anger, Taylor has faith in who is he and believes that being gay is okay with God Reardon knows her Bible and uses it well Full of drama, great dialog and well developed characters, Thinking Straight is a book I couldn t put down Beckie WeinheimerAuthor of Converting Kate
WARNING This review includes unmarked spoilers to major plot points of the book Proceed with the knowledge key parts of the book could be spoiler for you I really enjoy GLTB fiction as well as fiction that involves questioning the nature of religion So, when I saw that this book not only combined the both of them, but also painted both homosexuality and religion in a positive light, I knew I had to get my hands on it After reading it however, I was left feeling very conflicted about the book On one hand, I did appreciated several key themes and ideas that were presented in the book but, on the other, the book itself proved to be a disapointment in both writing, characters, and plot After reading the first page I realized that the writingwas sub par to say the least The character voice was weak and the plot was less of a plot andof an essay of Why Homosexuality Is Not a Sin According To The Bible with random plot points fade to black sex scenes intigrated in it to make it look like an novel It had a few points where the arguments against Homosexuality being the ultimate sin that were half way decent and there was name it, ONE character I was mildly emotionally invisted in.
However, neither of these things were able to actually redeem that many, many issues I had with the book, not to mention the ending that that really nailed the coffin shut with me by throwing a bunch of cliches and a random WELL IF A SCIENTIFIC STUDY SAYS BEING GAY THEN IT MUST BE GOSPEL BECAUSE SCIENCE HAS NEVER BEEN DISPROVEN HAHA which kind of made the whole God vs Homosexuals arguments pointless For in the endonly science has the answers And since God made science it makes sense Really It does Don t question science I didn t hate the book and there was again, a few parts of it I really did enjoy, but overal it was just very disapointing Cons Taylor, the MC, despite not being a femine individual had a very female voice I have read about, and know femine boys, and I know that you can write them in a way there their feminity shows through, but they still remain obviously male This was not the case with Taylor I don t want to put the entire gender of male ito a cardboard box saying this is how one should act, but for me I kept on having to remind myself that Taylor was not actually, a giggly, dramatic, boy crazy pre teen girl with an obsene obsession with IM abrivations, but instead a highschool boy With ab obsene obsession with IM abrivations It became a little lessconfusing as the book progressed, but he kind of stuck in gender fluid territory for most of the book, which was kind of a downside, since this was a book of a religious teenage BOY coming to terms with his homosexuality and how it fits with his strong faith, and due to the lack of a strong character voicethe book lost a little something.
Taylor s lack of voice wasn t the only thing that bothered me, the book had a lot of issues, the smallest being Ty s obssessive compulsive desire to use IM abbrivations in both real life conversation WHY WHY WHYYY to his thought life DEAR GOD WHY to the point where he tests Will s compability to him by throwing out a random abbrivation and being like if you know what this means we are defiantly soul mates Wait wait whaaat I m a teenager I know many other teenagers I know straight and gay teenage boys and girls Andwhile a few unholy lol s and brb s might creepy into otherwise decent conversation along with the classic WTF and BAMF I ve never seen someone drop something above five letters which Ty did at least once a page And the other characters were like oh yes I totally know what this 12 letter abrivation for Hi Please Pass The Milk My Brother In Christ means and I find it normal that would make up abrivations on the spot to replace normal conversation It was really, really annoying Other, much larger issues involved the raging sterotypes EX the black man, the short person, the attractive sexy boyfriend of seeeeex, the rapist priest, etc And lack of character in at least half of the side characters Prime example were HOMOPHOBIC PARENTS With an angry, fat, balding father and a submissive and timid and mildly idiotic mother who are both scandalized to find out their only child won t be producing grandbabies any time soon I m aware that sometimes parents fit this description, butreally You couldn t have spent a little bittime trying to escape the cliche pool Not only that, but Ty didn t even seem to like his parents that much His father was describedoften as a raging dictator prone to explosive tantrums then a loving parent that actually cared about his songs well being, and his mother was just pitiful Well um, you were supposed to produce babies, and can t you try really, really hard to want to have sex with a girl Pretty please with a cherry on top It was embarrasing to watch And kind of sad, like, if your parnets have such violent and concerned reactions to your coming out speech Which, I might add, the synopsis is misleading It makes it look like the I LIKE BOYS speech was ripped out of Ty, which really he was having conversation with his parents that went along the lines of why didn t you like that one girl because well don t you want to go out with anyone YES I DO I LOVE BOYS I WANT TO FUCK BOYS BOYS BOYS YUM DICK Ty runs upstairs and tries to convice himself that he had no other choice but to reveal le big secert Ty could have run upstairs and been like Whatever Like an average teeanger, but instead he had to pull out the podium and lay it on thick So It s hard to feel sorry for him in that respect The rest of the characters ranged from cliche as hell oh wait demerit to semi decent and various degrees in between The Cliches included YET ANOTHER RAPIST PRIEST, Black Boy With A Sexy As Hell Body And An Irish Name Sean he s black and handsome, need the author sayduh no , homphobic John The Non Rapist Priest like Character, The Mean Bitch girl someday there will be a book without a girl who is mean just for the sake of being mean, but it seems like it will not happen in my life time , and a slew of others The only characters the author really tried with were Charles my character highlight of the book, the precious thing made my heart break Nate THAT ONE SHORT GUY his mother, and I suppose Dawn, and by association Jessica Whose combined exisitence was there to prove that Lesbians go to correction facilities to Oh and Will, who was a mix between Sterotypical Sex God Boyfriend to someone who might actually be an intersting character if we saw him outside of Ty s SUCH HOT SUCH ATTRACTIVE SUCH LOVE lenses Outside of Charles, it was super hard to actually care what happened to anyone The Rapist Priest sub plot NEED I SAY MORE That horse has been beaten to the point that there s not enough of it left to make dog food It was also really lazy writing on the author s part As we went from soul searching contemporary novel that asks hard questions to this can all be blamed on rapist priests Uh Really Not to mention you can just SEE it coming the moment the man s character is introduced The what the fuck ending Ty saves all the little boys from the pedophila priest Will slips him the PAPER OF SCIENCE that shows this random study that shows him that it s impossible to change who you are because science and that God must have wanted him to be gay after all His parents become mildlyaccepting of the fact that he ll never be straight, and he makes out with his roommate in the name of LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP Mmhmm As Ty would say WTFISTESTM What the fuck is this ending supposed to mean for those who do not understand basic IM lingo The lack of conclusion real character change The novel starts off with a closet case Ty exploring his sexuality with his first boyfriend Will afterwards getting rejected by his family as well as his religion, and being sent on a personal journey to make sense of both At the end of the novel, Ty isn t that much of a closet case any he s still with Will and his family still rejects him Not only that but he has yet to figure out how God fits in his sexual orientation Sure, he explored it in the middle of the book, but at the end he throws that away because of a scrap of science paper that tells him that God made him this way so that s the only answer he really needs I was really disapointed in how meh well science says it s so so meh he was about the whole thing Likeso we went through all of those college argumentive essays cough soul searching conversations forwhat Explict sex scenes Not that there written all that well, but they were pretty graphic for a YA novel And I KNOW sex is becoming less of a though shall not write about taboo in modern day YA fiction, but it was still sort of surprising and I wish there was a type of warning for those who are bothered with graphic ish descriptions of sex It wasn t, again a big deal to me, but I know there s someone out there who dropped the book like a hot coal once Ty was giving his porn novel description of sex to the rapist priest Pros Alright, so there were things I did actually like about this book, and it wasn t just the porno sex scenes Charles MY PRECIOUS BABY Not only the best developed character in the entire book, but the one who went through the most drastic character change He starts off as a stiff boy scout of a character follow the rules to the death sort of thing He watches Ty like a hawk, and reports all of his slipups without giving him any sort of grace Ty writes him off as a closet case gay and arrogant asshole after the first day, however as he learnsCharles thehe becomes sympathic Charles reveals himself to be a real sweetheart who gives out his love freely without expecting anything return From spending time with a teenage expecting mother taking care of her, watching over her, making sure no one messes with her who isn t even carrying his child, to being Ty s strict guardian angel, afraid to let him out of his sight because of what happened to his last roommate Ry who commited sucide LIKE THIS BOY JUST HAS THE SUCKIEST MENTALITY I will care for other s in a non selfish and loving way, but heaven forbid someone cares about me, I don t deserve it He s a prime example of what happens when religion gets twisted to the point where it makes a person feelwretched than they were before they found the light He spends his days trying to follow the rules and praying to God so that he can change into someone he could actually like It hurts to watch Especially when pedo priest decides to prey on him like yeah, let me have sex with you so will be released from this sin like the boy is emotionally unstable, you fucker why would you do something that s going to break him even , and make him feellike worthless shit HE WAS MY BOOK HIGHLIGHT The best thing about the ending is that he finally got into a path of healing my headcanon is that he eventually learned to escape his depression and find a healthy view of religion and God Also that he found a loving partner that just like, adored him to no end and gave back all the love that Charles put into him and they adopted two children and like a dog, and became as happy as the gay couple nextdoor in ever comedy series ever God vs Homosexuality conversations Again, usually homosexuality and Chrisitanty don t mix well, and to see a Christian Homosexual as a main character for a GLTB book was very, very refreshing Even if the excutition wasn t the best, it was still oringial enough that I could enjoy the concept at the very least The arguments were intersting and defiantly made me think Any argument that supports my but gender isn t that big of a deal to me sexuality and my religious beliefs not getting into a to the death battle is a good thing honestly The fact that this facility and facilities like the one in the book wer presented as places that could have postive influences Like for drug achohal addicts that want to change their life and find help through religion And that they were not place for gay boys to come in and get straightend out so to speak Usually in GLTB fiction or YA fiction in general places that deal with addiction or sexuality or mental diseases are always bad places run by corrupt people and while that can be the case, there are people on the world who do want to help disturbed children and their methods actually do work So, that was very refreshing Ty deciding that he was going to stay behind and help other boy s like Charles Honestly, I think this was one of the few things that Ty did that I supported he went from a selfish ME BOY to a still mildly selfish kid that wanted to help others Though a minor con for me was him deciding that Kevin was gay after knowing him for three minutes Oh he said the word fairy defiantly a homo like eeeh really Ty That s um, judgemental of you Like maybe he was sexually abused by a man and dislikes gays because of that and that s why he s so defensive on the subject DON T ASSUME THINGS Overal, Thinking Straight was mostly a eeeh sort of book for me It had a decent concept but poor exucution in both character plot purpose of the novel There were however, redeeming factors of the book like Charles and key themes 2 1 2 stars.
I m torn on this book It s not that I hated itbut I didn t like itthough some parts were alright I dunno I guess I was looking for answers, and this book didn t give me those answers It was an entertaining read, and a page turner for sure, but I wanted somethingsomething muchreal again, a truth to it The book poses arguments on homosexuality and the Bible, but there wasn t much defin ance in it for me I m sorry, but I was really excited to read this and try and figure out something for myself, and I realized after reading it, I really couldn t give it to someone who had the same questions I had, and am having about this issue there was no satisfaction in it for me, and again, though points were posed I had a counter argument for each Trust me, I didnt want to have those counter arguments, but they were there, and I m not going to get real specific either sorry for whoever reads this Also, I really didnt care for the overuse and display of sexual imagery because it felt like I was reading something like a soft porno I can only assume what that means i.
e SMUT , and though the character opted for this description as his lover s true love and feelings, I feltlike it was sheer lust and instant gratification than love And, I really don t like the whole play about Rev Bartle yay stereotypes I mean it certainly gave the bookzing, but againyeah not what I was looking for, and I don t think the book offered much aside from the fact of love and yes, God loves everyone, but that doesnt mean he has to love the sin I m not saying that homosexuality is a sin , but the way the book poses it, is that it was once a sin, and that was statement is difficult to adhere to especially if God s Word is as true as it was before as it is today Truth I m Bisexual and I Love God do I know if I m going to hell I m not sure, but I do know that God loves me, the person, and if this truly is a birthed thing, then alright, but if its not, well then shit ya know But its whatever I ll keep wandering until I get the answers I seekor maybe I already know the ansewrs Its hard to tell sometimes and I was looking for something else to turn to, other thoughts, but when I know the things I know, and the things I ve been told, I needbackingunderstanding Its hard to explain, but I m one troubled fellow I can assure you that.
So yeah I m a little dissapointed, but hey it was an entertaining read, and for only the sheer purposes of entertainment and suspense, I would pick up the sequal and read about Taylor s new room mate Kenington But yeah, other than thatI don t think so.
But Ms Reardon waves her magic wand and sure enough, the mix of complex characters in the programme with Taylor starts to become interesting very soon Eventually it develops into a narrative of suspense, with the pages hardly turning quickly enough even in the kindle version Taylor is quite sure that he does not need any correcting, but he plays a role in assisting some of his fellow residents to withstand the undue pressure on them.
All s well that ends well, as the Bard said, and Thinking Straight is yet another Reardon novel I enjoyed thoroughly and will reread in future.
Aanvanklik was ek erg ongemaklik oor die premis van hierdie Reardon roman die hoofkarakter Taylor word gestuur na n Christelike program vir problematiese jongmense om sy homoseksualiteit te korrigeer Hy is baie seker daarvan dat hy nie korrigering nodig het nie, maar sy alternatief is n milit re akademie Die groep karakters saam met hom in die inrigting verseker dat die intrige baie gou interessant en selfs opwindend raak Eind goed, als goed en Reardon het nog n genietlike roman geskryf wat ek in die toekoms sal herlees Thinking Straight, by Robin Reardon is in many ways similar to Alex Sanchez The God Box, in that it explores the new sub genre of gay teen Christian fiction Tyler is a good god fearing Christian who struggles with coming to terms with his realization that he is gay With the arrival of Will, a confident, cute new student who happens to be gay and finds Tyler attractive, Tyler s world gets complicated Will is also a member of Tyler s church and the two of them engage in a discussion about the origins of sin, and how to reconcile what their bodies are telling them with what they are taught in church.
Eventually, Tyler and Will are found out, and his parents commit him to Straight To God , a local retreat to rehabilitate teens who engage in drug use, petty crime, or immoral behavior It is under this last infraction in which Tyler is committed He finds himself in a strictly controlled program with a roommate that shadows him constantly, nightly prayer groups, and strict regulations about dress and speech Tyler keeps thoughts of Will in his mind to help him get through what he hopes will only be an eight week program, but as he runs afoul of the system, it looks like Tyler may be there for a much longer time.
Apart from the usual Gay Teen Coming Of Age elements, this story has some lengthy discussions about how sin is relative to the time in history the particular bible passage was written, and several teens in the program struggle against thedogmatic administration to find good in the program and expose thecorruptive influences that threaten many of the students This book may be of interest to any teen who seeks to reconcile what they are taught in church, with what they feel is a fair and compassionate interpretation of the Bible.
When He Is Shipped Off To Straight To God, An Institution Devoted To Deprogramming Troubled Teenagers, Taylor Adams Learns Valuable Lessons In Love, Courage, Rebellion, And Betrayal In A Place Where Piety Is A Mask For Cruelty And The Greatest Crimes Go This book was amazing Not so much because of the concept gay kid gets sent to a church run camp for bad kids who need to be reformed because I m sure that s been done several times What was really interesting about this book was that the main character is actually a Christian to begin with not a usual theme in this sort of story and the journey into this camp actually changes and strengthens his faith This is one of those books that will make you think, and I d recommend it to anyone who is LGBT or an ally and is struggling with reconciling their faith with that For that matter, I d recommend it to those who aren t struggling, because I think it brings up some interesting things you may not have thought of before I know I hadn t I don t usually write reviews or comments on the stuff I read, so this is a pretty big testament to how much I enjoyed this book.
This was an pretty interesting book to read for me I like how for once, it showed religious people defending their sexuality with scripture rather than trying to destroy it The book gave some interesting view points that you don t see too often My only real complaint with this novel was the IM lingo it used That really detracted from the work Most people don t use IM lingo outside of IMs, and those who do are really frowned upon Heck, people are frowned upon for using in IMs If the author had omitted all of that, I think this would ve been a really good book There were a couple other little cliche thing in there, but nothing too major There were some interesting twists and turns, and the ending is actually pretty good I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their sexuality, and even those who aren t.