LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND by Bart Yates

LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Debut about a gay teenager coming of age in a small New England town.

For Noah York, at 17, adolescence hasn’t exactly turned out to be one long kegger: After his father’s death the year before, Noah’s eccentric mother Virginia has become increasingly unstable and difficult to live with. A well-regarded poet, she accepts a post at Cassidy College and moves with Noah from Chicago to Oakland, New Hampshire, where she buys a ramshackle Victorian house and tries to start a new life. Going from the big city to the sticks is hard for Noah, who’s gay, but he settles into a new routine pretty quickly, helping Virginia renovate the house and making friends with the local kids—among them J.D. Curtis, a classmate who lives nearby and becomes Noah’s best friend. Athletic and clean-cut, J.D. is a bit too All-American for the smartmouthed Noah, but they quickly become inseparable—and eventually fall in love. This development causes more trouble at first for J.D. (who had girlfriends and never thought of himself as gay) than for Noah, but it soon gets both of them in hot water when J.D.’s sister discovers them having sex and word spreads through the town. There are the usual fistfights and insults, and, after J.D.’s mother throws him out of the house, he comes to live with Noah and Virginia, who is more understanding but also in the middle of a crisis of her own. In redoing the house, Virginia began to discover Mason jars hidden in the walls with poems and notes from the Carlisles, an unhappy couple who lived there years ago. Becoming increasingly obsessed with this past, she has a mental breakdown after finding the skeleton of a baby girl buried in the basement. As Virginia slowly recovers her sanity, Noah and J.D. begin to build new lives for themselves together.

Earnest and predictable: a good start but nothing special.

Pub Date: March 4th, 2003
ISBN: 0-7582-0348-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2003