ODDLY NORMAL by John Schwartz


One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality
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A family’s memoir of raising a gay son.

New York Times national correspondent Schwartz (Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All, 2010) enlightens readers on the difficulties he and his wife faced while trying to help their son, Joe, accept his homosexuality. From a very early age, Schwartz and his wife suspected Joe might be gay, noting some telltale signs: the desire to play with Barbie dolls, the need for a pink feather boa and pink light-up shoes, the love of glitter and costume jewelry and the lack of interest in sports. However, because they had raised all three of their children in a gender-neutral environment, with dolls, action figures and trucks available to both their older son and daughter, they simply assumed Joe was just different. When Joe started school, though, behavioral problems developed. Because he was an avid reader at an early age, his parents suspected boredom; Joe's teachers suspected mental issues and suggested therapy. Numerous therapists later, with diagnoses that included ADHD, autism and Asperger's, Schwartz and his family were still no closer to understanding what made Joe different from his siblings and peers—and no one suggested homosexuality as a possible explanation for Joe's mood swings, anger and sullenness. Thanks to Internet research, the coming-out of TV personalities and new acceptance and legislation for homosexuals, the author was able to provide Joe with a safe home environment for him to reveal his "secret." It was only when Joe divulged his natural tendencies at school that disaster struck in the form of rejection, resulting in a life-altering situation for the entire family. Definitely defined as "not a self-help book," Schwartz's frank discussion of a subject many still find taboo will be helpful to parents of LGBT children as one example of how to accept a natural condition with dignity and love. An added bonus is the delightful story written and illustrated by Joe.

An honest, earnest, straightforward account of one boy's coming out.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59240-728-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Gotham Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2012


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