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Book for teens misses mark

By Jeff Walsh, Oasis Editor

Normally, I'm inclined to like books that specifically focus on and address gay youth issues. In fact, it's difficult to find books on this topic I don't embrace.

But there's something missing in "The Journey Out: A Guide for and About Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Teens," by Rachel Pollack and Cheryl Schwartz (Puffin Books).

At $7, I do think it's a bargain, but the tone just isn't right. The first couple chapters are written in the second person, which didn't work for me (When you are hurting, there are many things you can do that don't put you in danger.) The most interesting thing in the book are the teens that were interviewed, but they are just snippets here and there, only serving to introduce the next topic.

One teen quoted was kicked out of his house at thirteen, sold his body for sex and has now turned his life around, although he is now HIV-positive. He gets one paragraph in the book, containing a flip quote about being a survivor. I want to know all about him, what happened, how he survived, and what turned his life around. Sorry, wrong book.

Also, for a book released in 1995, only one reference to the Internet as a place for gay youth to find themselves is inexcusable. And the reference to "join[ing] a conversation on the electronic communication highway" is in the midst of a laundry list of places teens can go to talk about their feelings.

I think books like Linnea Due's "Joining The Tribe" have made me expect more from a gay youth book. Due paints loving portraits of her subjects, giving glimpses into their lives. None of that exists in "The Journey Out." I also think teens are more inclined to learn from seeing how other teens dealt with similar situations, rather than the feel-good tone of this book.

This book seems to want to hold the hand of the reader, showing them the yellow brick road to being openly gay while steering them clear of the evil homophobia monsters.

If a person is on the cusp of accepting themselves, and just needs a final push such as reading that being gay is okay, this book will be useful. For anything deeper, look elsewhere.


General information: Jeff Walsh
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