Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tale of Two Summers

Tale of Two Summers  by Brian Sloan

Hal and Chuck have been best friends for 10 years.  The summer before their junior year in high school, they spend the summer apart.  Hal wants to continue their friendship over the phone and through emails,  but Chuck sets up a blog to which they both contribute.  Thus begins the two summers of two very different guys:  Hal, bored in their small town of Wheaton, MD: about to enter driver’s ed, and gay.  Chuck, entering drama summer camp: excited, and straight.  Both looking for a summer romance, and sex in particular.

The blog is not just clever and funny; it gives each of them the opportunity to say things they might not say otherwise.  The anonymity of the computer allows them to talk about issues that bother them that a sixteen-year-old might not feel free to discuss face-to-face.  In the process, they teach us, the reader, about gay issues in a very readable, witty, format.  That said, the two seem more adult than most sixteen-year-olds.  Then they become the "as a mother, I'd like to knock you over your hormonal head" kind of guys. 

When Hal finds “the love of his life,” he is willing to forgive the marijuana, the illegal activities and the sexually reluctant behavior of Henri, newly arrived from France.  The scenes where they enter into a sexual relationship are very explicit, but tastefully done. In the meantime, Chuck has fallen in love at acting camp, although the girl seems to like their young director much more.  Chuck’s roommate at summer drama camp is gay, and readers experience a different gay perspective from him.  

This book addresses both the myths and realities of gay reactions and sex in a way that straight and gay teens will understand. At times, the novel feels like a vehicle to educate the public on gay issues.   Perhaps it is, but we forgive the author because these two are just great characters.  While all the characters are more than one-dimensional, the relationship between Hal and Chuck is the best part of the book, and you just have to cheer for them to make their own relationship work.

Lots of cussing, drug and alcohol abuse, body parts, sexually explicit scenes.

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