Annie's Reviews > How I Learned to Snap: A Small Town Coming-Out and Coming-of-Age Story

How I Learned to Snap by Kirk Read
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's review
Nov 26, 2008

did not like it
Read in November, 2008 , read count: 1

Oh, man. I read it is one day, which is quite the feat-- for me!

I really wanted to know more of his story, to see what happened next, etc. And I read parts of it out loud to my fiancee, for two different reasons: 1) so funny! and 2) so horrifying!

I think the book description/subtitle/premise doesn't do justice to the actual story. Everybody's lives are more complicated than what Read's father calls "single-issue", and I think that this book does an awesome job of not cutting corners to make it more palatable, more "on-topic" or whatever. But I think that the book isn't a small town coming-out story.

The protagonist comes out in waves, and sometimes not at all. It isn't so much about his hometown or high school as how he survived by getting out and being "taken care of" by predatory older men. He repeatedly explains that it wasn't wrong for him and it wasn't abuse, etc. And obviously, he gets to have his own experience.

But what I read was really disturbing to me. I could relate to a lot of the experiences, and now, looking back, I get to untangle those and see, yes, that was of great use to me as a survival mechanism, and also, it hurt me. I'll take the example of relying on older people as the source of my worth and validation: there were many older people who were looking out for me and took care of me, but they did so by maintaining appropriate boundaries with me, treating me respectfully and age-appropriately. I had teachers who recommended books to me and lots of people who worked with youth who would talk to me for hours about philosophy and the state of souls and God and literature and whatever I liked, and it got me through. But, there were trade-offs-- I didn't develop those kinds of relationships with my peers until I was well into my mid-twenties; I got to maintain my sense of "terminal uniqueness" long past the point where it made sense or helped me; and I was at risk for inappropriate attention from people with bad boundaries. I can see now which people were actually a threat to me (my intuition protected me at the time too) and how I was covertly abused by people who took advantage of my precociousness.

I think that the story is complicated by the fact that he seems to think that being queer, rather than leaving one susceptible to this kind of abuse, is actually a justification for it. He says that he would've dithered and been boring (I'm paraphrasing) and it would've been tedious, if he had come out at his own pace.

And maybe it would've been for him. I found any kind of waiting excruciating (until I got some recovery, actually), but I am grateful for the slow pace of my coming out to myself and to others. My psyche knew what to do and when, and it really helped me to keep my side of the street clean for a lot longer that my learning I was "gay" was self-discovery and not based on sexual experiences with older people.

Wow, as with all of these reviews, I have said a lot about myself.

The book: well-written, mostly, laugh-out-loud funny at times, cringe-inducingly un-self-aware.
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12/18/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by Allie (new)

Allie You seemed to have liked the book well enough; I'm curious, why'd you only give it 1 star?

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