BLACKBIRD SINGING by Larry Duplechan


Email this review


A sunny, energetic ""brat pack"" story, only this time the high-school hero is black and gay. Unfortunately, Duplechan (the paperback Eight Days a Week) gets caught in the teen-age narrator's YA-ish voice, making this a bit too sweet and thin to stick to an adult reader's ribs. The hero, Johnnie Ray Rousseau, quickly announces he's no Holden Caufield, ""with all that dire teen-age alienation schtick""; instead, he's a comforting soul to friends, an endearing wisecracker (who's sometimes corny but often clever), an ace drama student, a horny virgin and an animated host to some pretty predictable farewell-to-high-school adventures. The weakest moments concern his teen-age and/or sexual angst; these rob the book of some depth and bite. Turned down for the spring play (as of 1974, this small Mormon and Baptist town won't allow a black to kiss a white onstage), Johnnie Ray ventures up to a junior college drama audition and meets his first true love, a laid-back 24-year-old student filmmaker, who provides a blissful introduction to gay sex (and pot) before suddenly being called away to a film job. But subplots keep Johnnie Ray from feeling broken. hearted for long: some are overdone (a teen-age couple, victims of rigid morality, meet a tragic death when her pregnancy ruins their lives); some are poignant (Johnnie Ray's closest friend is caught in a gay sex act by his father and is severely beaten). Altogether, a predictable, rather simple-minded book in plot and message; even with a winning narrator, still more YA than adult.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's