Coming out in 1992 Dublin.
Seventeen-year-old Neil is a rugby star at his Catholic school, loves Sinead O’Connor and harbors a heavy secret: He’s gay. His coming-out process isn’t unlike that experienced by other characters from more recent young-adult novels (this was first published in Ireland in 1993). He takes his first trip to a gay bar. He eludes a persistent older man. He crushes on a cute waiter at a local bar. He falls in love, gets involved and gets dumped. What does make Lennon’s novel stand out is its 20-plus–year-old setting. The Troubles of Northern Ireland, the looming, grim presence of AIDS, the early 1990s Irish music scene and the negative stigma of homosexuality effectively turn this work into historical fiction. Despite this dark backdrop, Lennon’s work feels less heavy-handed than readers might expect. His vibrant characters and their realistic repartee keep the work from getting too mopey. Plotting is the novel’s only real fault. Some scenes feel prolonged while others move too quickly, and the end wraps up at a remarkable speed—not one, but three redemptions take place within the last three pages.
Still, it’s a mostly solid novel of identification that’s entirely capable of speaking to today’s youth. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)