Kirkus Reviews QR Code
A VERY, VERY BAD THING by Jeffery Self


by Jeffery Self

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-338-11840-7
Publisher: PUSH/Scholastic

An acidic gay teen succumbs to a sappy love story, subsequently grappling with an unfurling lie for the greater good.

Seventeen-year-old Marley of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is without purpose. His grades are subpar, hereditary creativity has skipped a generation, and he has no particular talent beyond snark. Enter: Christopher, a beautiful, blond, sleek, and gay (finally!) additive to amend Marley’s homosexuality from theoretical to practicing. One tiny hitch…Christopher’s father is an infamously rich, right-wing, bigoted televangelist with a distinct anti-gay agenda. Though Marley is a contemporary teenager, his voice could easily be transferred to a campy narrative starring a middle-aged, martini-swilling, South Beach–er. The underlying tragedy and resulting lie that envelop Marley evolve as chapters alternate from documented past time stamps to “Now.” Though there is a tragic component to this largely white love story (as well as a firm reminder of the ways despicable, closed-minded parents and general bigotry can adversely affect LBGTQIA youth—i.e. conversion camps), the narrative is on the fluffy side. The presence of conflict is without question. But the ease with which Marley meets Christopher, falls in love, and surmounts said conflict—all in 225 pages—defies credulity. In fact, it’s Christopher on the periphery who faces more domestic adversity (albeit with blond hair, white skin, and millions of dollars) than Marley.

A reminder of the decrepitude of parental bigotry in an insubstantial, candy-coated narrative.

(Fiction. 13-17)