Maria47's Reviews > Out of the Pocket

Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
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Mar 29, 2010

it was amazing
Read in March, 2010 — I own a copy

Out of the Pocket

Today I want to recommend a book that is really amazing: Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg.
If you are interested to find out more about the author:

A note: Ouotes of the book are signed by --.

Bobby Framingham is the star quarterback at the Durango High School football team, extremely talented and nobody has a doubt he’ll be a successful pro one day. He has nice parents, friends and teammates and everything would be wonderful – if he didn’t know he is different in a way that might destroy everything he’s living for and dreaming about: Bobby is gay.

Bill Konigsberg has written a novel about coming of age and coming out that is far more than the typical “I’m gay and unfortunately I’m a brilliant jock as well” story.

There are no parents who disown their son, no coaches who threaten to kick him out of the team, no long term friends who kick his butt when he tells them. And most of the teammates are ok with it as well. It is a story that describes in an often funny, touching and very compelling way that being gay is still trouble – even when you are supported by most of the people you care for. You still are isolated at a point and have the feeling everything is too much to bear.

Not because everybody turns against Bobby but mainly because it still is a big thing when a young man - a star quarterback by all means! - is discovered to be gay. Bobby is drawn into focus, whether he likes it or not.

What makes this story so unique is the subtle changes between Bobby and all the people who are his friends, family and teammates. Yes, there are some who aren’t cool with it, but most of them can handle it. But nonetheless being gay changes the attitude between Booby and everybody he knows. And if it is only the time people need to come to terms with the news: It hurts and Bobby feels utterly alone. Not only pure hatred and big drama but also this “gay thing “ at all being such an issue is hurting and out of place. Konigsberg shows this masterfully all the time i.e. with a scene, when Bobby is interviewed after a game:

--The reporters were silent. Maybe what I’d said wasn’t what they’d expected, I don’t know. The same guy who had asked me before the game about being a gay quarterback spoke.

“So how was it, being openly gay and quarterbacking a team to the championship game?”

In the ensuing silence, I could feel the tension. First lines for newspaper stories across the area and even the country were being devised as I spoke.

“I don’t know. Sort of being an openly straight quarterback, but with a lot more media attention on me, “ I said.--

Not only the plot but especially the characters make this story so outstanding and vivid. Every friend, Bobby’s parents, the coach: The depth of them is amazing, everybody is an individual, you can tell who “speaks” just by the different phrasing Konigsberg uses for all of them.

As a woman I especially appreciated the women appearing:

His mother who isn’t described stereotyping at all: She neither is the mother hen supporting Bobby as much as she should nor is she the dragon who drives her son out of the house as soon as she finds out he is gay. She is a warm, caring person but still has troubles to get used to a gay son. And considering all circumstances you can understand it, you know why she is troubled, fearful and yet loves her son unconditionally.

And there is Carrie: Adorable, funny, big mouthed Carrie, who everybody considers to be Bobby’s girlfriend, though they never really dated. At the very beginning of the book – Bobby isn’t out yet – they meet in their favorite diner and Carrie starts to discuss their relationship.

--She started talking loudly about her virginity.

“It’s still here,” she said, wrapping strands of her dark hair around her index finger. “And it doesn’t want to be. It wants to move to Hawaii and retire, drink pina coladas under a palm tree, and get catered to by muscular Samoan boys in short shorts.”--

Have you ever read an announcement: "Hey, I want to have sex” that was more hilarious? I haven’t by a long shot. And one of my favorites:

--Carrie was there. She hated football but sometimes she came to my games. She came up behind me and placed her chin on my neck. “That was one of the finest basketball games I’ve ever seen,” she said. I turned to her and smirked.

“Hockey,” I corrected.

“Look, I may be white, but the name-calling is totally out of place,” she said, kissing me on the cheek and heading out toward her car. She’s so weird. I love her.--

So everything about this book is amazing, a book I wasn’t able to put down and stop reading before I reached the very end. In case you understand anything about football you might enjoy the book even more, I'm sure I missed some metaphores because I don't know anything about football besides the quarterback must be some really important guy for this game and that being in the pocket seems to be safer than being out of the pocket.

I hope Mr. Konigsberg will publish another book soon.
Just for the record: I’m not alone judging this book to be a very great one: Out of the Pocket won the Lambda Literary Award 2009.

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