Kris’ New Year’s Readolution 3! To try a different author and/or genre once a month.
Thinking Straight by Robin Reardon
If only Taylor Adams had kept on lying to his parents, none of this would have happened. He wouldn’t have been shipped off to Straight to God, an institution devoted to “deprogramming” troubled teenagers and ridding them of their vices – whether it’s drugs, violence, or in Taylor’s case, other boys.
At Straight to God, such thoughts – along with all other reminders of Taylor’s former “sinful” life-are forbidden. Every movement is monitored, privacy is impossible, and no one – from staff to residents – is quite who they first appear to be. There’s Charles, Taylor’s clean-cut roommate, desperate to leave his past behind… Nate Devlin, a handsome, inscrutable older boy who’s alternately arrogant and kind… gorgeous, secretive Sean, who returns to Straight to God each year to avoid doing prison time for drugs.
Here, where piety can be a mask for cruelty and the greatest crimes go unpunished, Taylor will learn more than he ever dreamed about love, courage, rebellion, and betrayal-but the most surprising lessons will be the truths he uncovers about himself.
Why I bought it:
I was browsing the virtual shelves at The Book Depository and came across it. The blurb intrigued.
Dislike/like (ending on a high note):
Dislike~ Or more of a warning~ I have this fascination/horror with the things people do to each other in the name of religion. This is never more the case when it comes to what some so-called Christian people will do to adults and especially children in an attempt to make them conform to their interpretation of the Bible and Christianity. The idea of parents sending their gay children to an institution which would ‘straighten’ them out was particularly confronting for me and there were times in the book when I wavered between intense dislike for what I was reading to feelings of hope for future of the young protag.
Like~ What stood out about Thinking Straight for me was the character of Taylor. An extraordinarily strong, albeit imperfect (he’s a teenager after all), character with an amazing sense of self. Below are two quotes from the book that illustrate this faith in himself and his God as well as part of Taylor’s journey at Straight to God:
God, I know you love me. And you know I love you. I don’t know why you’ve brought me here unless it’s some kind of test. Can I live with these people and still be the person [gay] you made me? Can I believe, despite everything I’ll go through here that you don’t make mistakes? (p. 36)
Strickland and everyone else need to learn to love me for who I am, for who God made me, not to try and make this about them. Which means they have to question their own assumptions about homosexuality. They assume that God is just as uncomfortable with it as they are. So it’s as much a test for them as for me. And that’s why everyone is in here [Straight to God] together. (p. 197)
Dislike~ I have my own beliefs, but I am not someone who is, for want of a better word, ‘religiousy’. I did stumble at times with the use of text, stories and concepts from the Bible because I wasn’t always certain about their meaning. Having said that, the author did put a lot of this into context for the reader and Taylor himself reflected/had internal discussions about these subjects, thereby allowing readers like myself to gain a better understanding, if not an inkling.
Like~ A large part of why I liked this book was because of its potential; that is, I can imagine it having an enormous impact on those struggling with the idea of being a homosexual and a Christian. At the same time, I think it would have a meaningful and positive influence on those dealing with such issues in their families or communities.
So, what I think: I can’t say with all honesty that I ‘enjoyed’ Thinking Straight in the true sense of the word; however, I was satisfied at its conclusion and deeply enamoured with the character of Taylor. As I indicated above, I would highly recommend this book for those interested in exploring the themes of homosexuality and of Christianity.
‘Tasting’ is my version of a mini-review where I talk a (very) little about what I liked and disliked about a book as well as who I think the story will appeal to. Oh, and I’ve added a bit about why I picked up the book in the first place – sometimes this can be interesting to know.