When I first began reading this book, I struggled with relating to the main character. His obsession with pop culture, being trendy and fashionable, aWhen I first began reading this book, I struggled with relating to the main character. His obsession with pop culture, being trendy and fashionable, and his constant references to his good looks were unnerving and annoying to me. Add to this the fact that the book, in spite of several re-releases over the years, contained numerous editorial flaws (not just typos, but blatant errors that could have easily been corrected simply by proofreading), and I thought I was embarking upon a one-star read.
But the redeeming quality of this book is the story itself. When I was able to get beyond my own preconceptions and set aside all judgment of the protagonist's integrity, I began to fall in love with him. I wondered if, in real life, a person such as this would even give the time of day to someone like me, but at least while reading the story, I could pretend I was a part of his world.
Vito is about my age, born in the mid 1960s. In his early 20s he enters the priesthood in spite of the fact that he's known he's gay since the age of 17. He likes Madonna and all the pop music of the 80s and 90s, and he hangs out with his gay friends and parties whenever possible. He also teaches ninth grade in the Catholic school and is greatly admired and revered by his students who all think he's pretty cool for a priest.
Then for the summer, he takes a trip from New York out to San Francisco to volunteer at an AIDS outreach center. While there, he meets one of the volunteers, a man named Gabe, and he falls in love. He then must make a decision as to what he's going to do with his life. Does he continue with the priesthood and take his final vows, or does he give up his calling to pursue his relationship with Gabe?
I guess the reason I liked the story so much was because, in spite of the book's flaws, it was so honest. I don't know how much of the story is fiction and how much is autobiography, but it sincerely felt like the author was talking about his own life. I think it takes a lot of guts to write something like this, and there were sections of the book that moved me emotionally. I also really grew to love the main character's love interest, Gabe. I was so afraid throughout the story that he was going to get hurt badly. I loved the sweetness of the ending, though, and by the time I'd finished reading the book, I even loved Vito.
I was glad to learn that the story is being made into a movie, and I can't wait to see it. ...more
Brian Sloan's A Tale of Two Summers chronicles the events of the summer, 2006, in the lives of two fifteen-year-old best friends, Hal and Chuck. Set iBrian Sloan's A Tale of Two Summers chronicles the events of the summer, 2006, in the lives of two fifteen-year-old best friends, Hal and Chuck. Set in Wheaton, MD, and Washington, DC, the friends communicate with one another via an Internet blog. Chuck is a straight drama student who is attending summer theatre camp at the University of Maryland, and Chuck is his gay best friend who's stuck at home in Wheaton for the summer taking driver's training classes.
The blog that the friends share provides a venue for them to communicate their secrets, feelings, and fantasies with one another. Having been inseparable since kindergarten, the pair struggle to cope with the reality that they must spend six whole weeks in which they do not share close physical proximity.
The uniqueness and creativity of this work is noteworthy, and the masterful way in which the author uses his narrators' insights to fully flesh out the secondary characters of the story is nothing less than impressive. Often reviewers are critical of the first person narrative because of the limitations it poses upon character development, disallowing the author the opportunity to really get into the minds of any character beyond the protagonist. With the dual narrators, however, the story provided two perspectives to the reader.
I found the author's humor and sarcasm to be quite entertaining, and I ultimately grew to care about and deeply respect both of the boys depicted in this clever and memorable read. I was particularly moved by the raw honesty and genuineness of their abiding friendship. I loved that the boys were so dramatically different from one another yet also exactly alike in so many ways. They totally got each other, and it felt as if I totally got them as well.
Hal, the gay character, was especially endearing to me. I desperately wanted to shield him from the impending heartache I was certain he would experience from his first-ever summer romance. He seemed so sensitive and vulnerable, yet also so wise beyond his chronological years.
The manner in which Chuck was so nonchalant and unfazed by his best friend's sexual orientation was a wonderful twist to what could have been an all-too-predictable coming of age/coming-out story. Hal's sexual identity never seemed to be an issue, and because of this fact I cannot even say that the book was a coming out story at all.
There are two criticisms that I have concerning the story. Firstly, I found the first few chapters of the book to be extremely slow, so much so that I nearly wanted to abandon the read altogether. About midway into the book, though, I became so engrossed that I could barely put it down. My second word of criticism has to do with the vocabulary employed by these two fifteen-year-olds. I found it to be quite bluntly unbelievable. It was laced with impressive polysyllabic words which I would barely expect to hear from a forty-year-old, let alone a couple of kids. The author did also include a great deal of slang and modern teen jargon, but it seemed more of an attempt to offset the age-inappropriate dialogue of the central characters.
Over all, I loved the book. I grew to care about both characters immensely, and I congratulate the author on his originality and his amazing skill as a writer. For these reasons, I highly recommend A Tale of Two Summers for teens and adults alike....more
Kevin Doyle is an eighteen year old high school senior from Minneapolis. It is 1978, and Kevin lives at home with his widowed father. Kevin's mother dKevin Doyle is an eighteen year old high school senior from Minneapolis. It is 1978, and Kevin lives at home with his widowed father. Kevin's mother died two years prior in a tragic automobile accident when her car hit a patch of ice and careened off the highway over an embankment into the Mississippi River.
Kevin has a secret which he shares with no one...no one except his imaginary boyfriend Jon. Actually Jon is a real person that goes to school with Kevin, but the real Jon is straight. So Kevin goes to bed every night with Jon's imaginary gay alter ego. It is Kevin's sexual orientation which is the secret.
Kevin's family is full of secrets. When he discovers that his father was embroiled in an ongoing extramarital affair at the time of his mother's death, Kevin is left wondering if it was really an accident. He fears she may have committed suicide when she learned her husband was planning to leave her.
From the very first paragraph of this novel, I knew that I was going to love this writer. His ability to describe rather mundane situations in such a colorful and hilarious manner is beyond remarkable. He skillfully assumes the voice of the central character, employing a vernacular that is humorous and poignantly real.
In my view the book is not without weaknesses, however. Paramount among them is the stagnant plot. I kept waiting for something spectacular to happen. Something amazing and earth-shattering, but there was no climax. The central character was believable, lovable, and very readable...but he failed to take any action. I wanted a romance or at the very least a grand coming-out moment. There were none.
Several sub-plots emerged within the story, and I yearned for resolution. The reader is left wondering what happened, and perhaps this is the author's point. Obviously he wanted his readers to draw their own conclusions. In this sense, the book felt more like a memoir than a fictional novel.
Overall, I found the book to be a fascinating read. I love this writer's voice, and I'm craving more. A sequel would be wonderful, for then we would learn what actually happened.
The Year of Ice is a welcome addition to my GLBT library. I definitely recommend it....more