Posts tagged Coming of Age
I met Orlando in kindergarten. I loved him fiercely. He was a vivid, noisy boy who wore big plastic-framed glasses. We were desk mates, best friends, inseparable. I decided I would marry him; we would buy a farmhouse in Connecticut, just like Lucy Ricardo’s house in Westport, and raise chickens. We’d have a dog, too. And children—though I was less sure how we’d procure children than a dog.
What can I say about this book? Unbroken is a love story, and an incredibly powerful one, but there is so much more to it than that. For me, this is a tale of conviction. It’s about staying true to yourself and following your heart, the steadfast refusal to give up on your dreams, no matter how many people try to bring you down. The novel is as gritty as it is emotionally complex, and thoroughly deserves its place among the 2014 Lammy finalists.
My parents, unable to change me, had instead, silenced me. When they’d stilled my hands, they’d taken my words, made me lower my voice to a whisper. Later, I remained silent in defense, refusing to acknowledge the hateful words: Brainiac. Sissy. Antiman. Faggot.
AUNT LOUISE CAME to our trailer at dusk, bearing a huge bowl of steamed rice and a covered pot. She removed the lid and a sweet spiciness filled the living room.
Every so often I’ll pick up a book that truly captures my heart and sparks my imagination, and this remarkable debut novel by Eric Gober is one of them. Masterfully written, it follows Neil Ospwinkle as he negotiates an unconventional upbringing, endures the heartache of his teenage years, and sets out as a young adult to pursue his ambition to become a make-up artist. I quickly fell in love not only with the distinctive style, but with the quirky characters and the colorful craziness of Las Vegas where the story is set.
Neil Ostwinkle is growing up in a Las Vegas trailer court where he realizes early on that he’d rather marry the Professor, not Mary Ann or Ginger. He prefers Aunt Louise’s colorful makeup kits to drab green army men, and he swaps clothes with his best bud Rebecca Mooney because her silky dresses feel like magic on his skin. But in school he learns that being different has frightening consequences and keeps his desires secret. Neil can’t understand why his mom, Ellen, shackles him with one bad stepfather after another. She marries and divorces a mooch, a two-timer, and a pyromaniac.
The weeks ran by. Nancy packed her clothes and her few favorite mementos and left town. The farewell party the night before left Mrs. Hemmer in tears, and Dave and Ryan had too much to drink. Nancy snuck them some cheap whiskey and Dave puked it up in the bushes an hour later. Ryan felt woozy but managed to drive them both home.
Imagine knowing something terrible is about to happen, and yet being powerless to prevent it. This is the predicament sixteen-year-old Ryan Colton finds himself confronting in J. Lee Graham’s emotional novel. Though this is very much a story about self-acceptance, it’s also a poignant illustration of how we should treasure those we love while we can, because there’s no telling when they might be taken from us.
The Promise of Living is a heartrending coming of age novel of sixteen-year-old Ryan Colton and his quest for his own authenticity.