Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second

Well, I did finish the novel before I went to sleep on Tuesday. (I'm now working on the latest Bishop Blackie Ryan mystery). I have to recommend it strongly. By turns touching, funny, and titillating, The Screwed Up Life of Charlie the Second was the best $20 I ever spent. The protagonist reminds me of me in high school.

Charlie is an openly gay Lutheran high school senior in Illinois. The novel, written in the form of a diary, traces the development of his first relationship, and the concurrent dramas in both boys' families.

The novel was perfect for someone like me because it combined the relaxed tone and language of a young-adult novel with enough material to keep full-blown adults happy (the cultural references Charlie casually drops would never be made by anyone else that age but me and the sex is rather explicit). What I thought particularly brilliant was the way in which the sexual orientation of the (anti-)hero and his boyfriend was handled. This is not a coming-out story: that watershed has already happened before the narrative begins and has ceased to be an issue. As someone who went to high school in affluent, liberal, mainly white suburb at the turn of this century, I found this a remarkably accurate reflection of my (pretty uneventful) experience as a gay adolescent.

It's really a charming novel and I can't recommend it enough, though I won't dissemble that one review I read called it "pretty much erotica with plot, and I do mean that in the best way possible..."


John the organist said...

Who is the author?

Geoff said...

His name is Drew Ferguson.