Monday, May 3, 2010

Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, by Carrie Jones.

Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, by Carrie Jones. Woodbury, MN: Flux, 2007. ISBN-10: 0738710504; ISBN-13: 978-0738710501. 288 p.

Plot Summary
Belle and Dylan have been dating for years, and their entire small town things they're destined to be together. So when Dylan tells Belle he's gay, she is shocked. Was their entire relationship a lie? Is it fair to be mad at your boyfriend for being true to himself? Belle journals her journey to acceptance and understanding. She finds that even though her heart really hurts, things will eventually be okay and she will find love again.

Critical Evaluation
Jones is excellent at capturing the emotions a girl feels when her boyfriend comes out to her as gay--wondering if she'll always be the girl that guys date before they come out and wondering how long she's been lied to--but also reminds the reader that life moves on. Belle's voice is compelling and realistic. I did have one quibble with the book--it's set out as the journal of a seven day period after Dylan and Belle break up. I found the timeline to be a little compressed and unbelievable--would Belle really have a new boyfriend that quickly after a breakup with her boyfriend of two years? However, if you ignore the timeline and pretend it's happening more organically as far as time is concerned, it seems very realistic.

Reader’s Annotation
Belle and Dylan were always the perfect couple, and Belle thought they were always going to be together. When Dylan tells Belle he's gay, her world is rocket by the revelation.

Author Information
Carrie Jones grew up in Bedford, New Hampshire, where she once had a seance with the comedian Sarah Silverman. She graduated from Vermont College's MFA program for writing, and has won literary awards in Maine, where she currently lives. After college, she edited newspapers and poetry journals before she published her first book (this one) in 2007.

Carrie's website contains some very funny true confessions about her life. One example: "Carrie lives in Maine. She has a hard time with this in the winter. It is bleak in Maine in the winter. Imagine everything shades of gray and brown and no green anywhere except for in people’s noses. This is Maine in Winter. Maine in summer is the best place in the world, so it’s a trade-off. Feel free to invite Carrie to your house in the winter, but not if it’s in Greenland, Canada, or anywhere north of Florida." For FAQs, links to other writers, and information about her books, visit her website at

Realistic fiction

Curriculum Ties
Sociology of homosexuality

Booktalking Ideas
-Read the passage where Dylan confesses that he's gay
-Read the passage where Belle wonders if she's marked/destined by this to always be a "beard"

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 9+

Challenge Issues
-Derogatory language toward gays by other high school students
-Open homosexuality and sex among high school students

Challenge Defense
This issue is something I have personal experience with, and if I'd had this book to read a few years ago, I would have found it really helpful. I would share my own experiences.

I included this book because I was browsing the teen area at my public library and the title practically jumped out at me as something I'd like to read.


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