13 year-old Robin Mckenzie knows that the monthly trips to New York City he and he his mother Dorothy take mark him out as different. Together they visit ithe cities Art Galleries and parks and cast their eyes over her old haunts as she regails him with conflicting stories of her life as a single high flyer in the time before she married his father.

Robin also knows that fantasising over his seventeen year-old neighbour Todd Spicer marks him out as different, as does his attraction to freshman stoner Scott Schatz.

As he stumbles through his first year of high school he questions his feelings for these boys, his best friend Victoria (Todd's younger sister) and even the relationships he has with his over-protective mother and distant father. But it's not until a tragedy hits the family that the dots start to connect and he realises that he may never belong to that elusive world of normal boys.

K.M. Soehnleins debut novel (published in 2001) is a tender coming of age story that is highly reminiscent of Ron Moody's "The Ice Storm" and not just that both are seventies set character pieces, both pulling focus on the slow disintegration of the suburban family unit. Both also contain a lilting and dreamy quality that while far from the social and political turmoil of the seventies, it's undercurrents bubble away, ever present in the back ground.

Reading through this novel is bound bring up some long buried high school memories for most gay readers. It's depiction of Robin's sexual awakening is sensitive but vivid, his mind a mess of feelings and moral dilemmas that are immediately identifiable. The compelling narrative has been given so much thought and detail that it's hard not see this as autobiographical for the reader.

A great Summer novel, compelling and beautiful and a great cathartic read.

The World of Normal Boys at Amazon

1 comment:

Hansisgreat said...

This is a good book about being young and gay. I read it a few years ago and don't recall all the details, but do remember enjoying it. Good choice!