The life and times of an adventurous, gay high school sophomore.
In the latest installment featuring Julian, the affable lead in the Julian’s Private Scrapbook YA series, author Eldot (The Champions: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, 2013, etc.) re-creates the autumn of 1962 as Julian embarks upon another school year full of books and boys at Jackson High School. Amid a backdrop of artistic inclinations and first-day jitters, Julian’s romantic feelings for Mark, his Scoutmaster at Camp Walker over the past summer, continue to simmer, with their exploratory fondling lingering in his memory. But his concerned mother, Francine, encourages him to show an interest in girls. When Rita, an attractive, mischievous schoolmate, asks Julian, aka “the blond masterpiece,” to the Sadie Hawkins dance, the obvious awkward clashing of orientations ensues. Humor is one of Eldot’s strong suits; he has an impressive capacity for penning farcical, innocently disastrous moments. He also builds a good supporting cast, like Mark, who is in a heterosexual marriage of convenience after his longtime partner died seven years prior; and Randall, a gay virgin and recent arrival to Jackson High. Intimate shenanigans occur at a secret society campout for randy boys, but the author takes care to handle these moments with restraint. Structurally, however, Eldot fumbles a bit. He shifts perspective awkwardly and adds too many disclaimers, style notes, and end matter that are meant to illuminate Julian but result in informational overload. Still, Eldot successfully taps into the experiences of gay youth with a believable blend of engaging characterization, humor, pathos, back story, and teenage angst.
Fun, frolicsome series with good humor and a message of unity and equality; new readers may want to start at the beginning.