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A Question of Manhood

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  35 reviews
November 1972. The Vietnam War is rumored to be drawing to a close, and for sixteen-year-old Paul Landon, the end can't come soon enough. The end will mean his older brother Chris, the family's golden child, returning home from the Army for good. But while home on leave, Chris entrusts Paul with a secret: He's gay. And when Chris is killed in action, Paul is beset by grief ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Kensington Publishing Corporation (first published September 30th 2006)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  202 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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May 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: vietnam, young-adult, meh, blog
**This was an Advance Reader's Copy provided by Library Thing**

This is a tough one, but I'm going to go with 2 1/2 stars. It's tough because I admire any young adult author who is willing to tackle the issue of homosexuality in a way that teaches the need for acceptance and understanding, but doesn't do so in a way that fails to acknowledge the powerful social stigmas and gender stereotypes that still hold sway over pre-teens and teens grappling with what it means to be gay. However, in terms of
Jeff Erno
Jul 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Paul Landon is sixteen years old, and he feels he lives in his older brother’s shadow. Chris is the hero of the family, an enlisted soldier in the Vietnam War, and both of Paul’s parents idolize their eldest son. At times Paul feels jealous of Chris, but he cannot deny that there is a lot about Chris that is worthy of admiration. During Paul’s childhood and adolescence, his brother was a mentor to him. Paul hopes that one day he will become even half the man that his brother already is. When Chr ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
2 Aug. I have just read Chapter 2 during my reading time at school. I will have to work very hard on interaction with other humans for the rest of the day - it is very, very upsetting, mainly because I have started caring about the characters. And the Vietnam War is the historical timeframe of the book, and as I have delved into Viet Thanh Nguyen's The sympathizer and his other titles earlier this year, the horror is still with me. Of course, now I want to stop everything else and find out where ...more
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This is a book I wrote, so of course I gave it five starts. Otherwise, why bother to get it published? And here's how I describe it...

Chris is the favorite son. There’s no doubt in the mind of sixteen-year-old Paul Landon about that. Paul would resent it, except that he idolizes his wise, brave older brother. The problems begin the night before Chris returns to Vietnam after a brief leave at home in November of 1972. On that last night, he confesses two things to Paul that threaten everything Pa
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Carrie by: AfterElton, probably from Brent Hartinger, which explains EVERYTHING
Paul has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, Chris. When Chris is killed in action in Vietnam, Paul is left with the horrible secret Chris told him when he was last at home: Chris is gay. Unable to tell his parents, and ashamed that the brother he looked up to isn’t what he thought, Paul starts hanging with the wrong crowd and eventually gets in enough trouble to be banished to working in his father’s pet supply store for the summer. That’s where he meets J.J., who’s smart, confiden ...more
Elisa Rolle
This is the third book by Robin Reardon about being young and gay, and fighting to have a normal life, the third she wrote and the third I read without hesitation. Even if about young men with problem bigger than them, even if it will be difficult, and hard, for them to be happy, these struggling teenagers are stronger than what it seems, and I know that, at the end of their story, there will be a chance for happiness.

This last book is a bit different though; Paul, the protagonist, is not gay.
Robin knocks another one outta the park!

This book is great. A black sheep younger brother must come to terms with the death of his older brother and idol during the Viet Nam war. Added to the usual tension and grief is the confusion the soldier left in his wake. The night before his return to duty the soldier came out to his younger brother but swore him to secrecy. Not only that he was gay but that he felt he would die in Viet Nam.

From the first chapter, this story grips your attention and you
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I was sent this book through Goodreads. A Question of Manhood is the story of Paul, a 16-year old growing up in the Midwest in the Vietnam Era. Paul has lived in the shadow of his seemingly perfect older brother, Chris, who is fighting in the war. On his last visit home, Chris confides in Paul that he is gay. Throughout the novel, Paul wrestles with carrying the "burden" of his brother's secret and his own prejudices against homosexuality.

The author addresses numerous big issues deftly - accept
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gay-fiction
This novel did not really work for me, though I did learn a lot about how to train dogs with behavior problems. It is told from the viewpoint of a straight teen, a jerk, but not an atypical jerk for a teen boy. Its main themes are what it means to be a man and acceptance of a Gay brother thru interaction with a Gay co-worker at his dad's pet supply store. Learning to train disturbed dogs is a metaphor for learning what it means to be a man. But, this did not really work for me. Though humans are ...more
Gavin Stephenson-Jackman
What does it mean to be man? That's the question that Paul must answer for himself after the death of his older brother in Vietnam. While on leave prior to his death Chris reveals to Paul that he's gay and that his lover has just been killed in action. Chris fearing his parent's reaction swears Paul to secrecy. Paul struggles to understand the meaning of manhood and reconcile that to the knowledge that his brother was gay which in his 70s mindset just seemed irreconcilable. Then to further confu ...more
Javier Martinez
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this book a little slow. I really wanted to find out more about Chris but the book just went in a whole different direction.
Johnny Diaz
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Paul Landon never felt like he was the apple of his parent's eye. That role belonged to his older brother Chris.
Chris was the brave son who enlisted in the army. Charming, goodlooking and smart, he could do no wrong, at least that's what his sixteen year old brother thought.
But when Chris returns home from Vietnam for Thanksgiving, he confides in Paul that he's gay and that his partner, a fellow soldier, died in Vietnam. That secret shatters Paul's his image of his older bro who is then killed i
Michael Prier
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I learned unexpectedly so much about dog training from a novel about a family who experience loss. Paul's brother Chris was only a catalyst to the lesson he would be learning about being a man. The fear of the unknown and fear the dogs experienced were so closely tied that it made sense. I love how the reader is expected to complete the story, not knowing what will happen to the characters, as it allows for us to come up with our own happy ending. The final reveal at the end was not a surprise, ...more
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Secondary Schools
Shelves: ebooks, favorites
I've read Robin Reardon's previous novels, "A Secret Edge" and "Thinking Straight", and I had enjoyed both of them. This novel is no different. Well, actually, it's a little different.

Her first two were focused on a male gay teenager. This one has the focus on a younger brother's point-of-view. His name is Paul. And how he's dealing with finding out that his older brother, Chris, who he worships and thinks of him as his hero, is gay.

Here's the year... 1972. And Chris is in the army at the end of
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A touching account of coming of age in rural America during the Vietnam war.

A fact worth noting is this book is not about being a gay teenager. The main character, Paul, is straight and his own sexuality, it's never questioned. This is his journey toward tolerance of others' homosexuality.

Paul faces a difficult relationship with his parents, increased by the guilty loving hating one with his dead brother, Christ. And the secret he took to his grave. A secret he confessed to Paul shortly before
The Rainbow Zebra
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, High School level
Recommended to The Rainbow Zebra by: First Reads
My thanks to First Reads for this book.

What makes a man? In Robin Reardon's novel A Question of Manhood, this theme is a constant, especially for the narrator, 16 year old Paul. Set during the Vietnam War, he feels as though he's always been in the shadow of his older brother Chris, who has just come home for a short leave from the hell of war. Afraid of returning, he admits to Paul that he is gay. Paul must struggle with that secret as much as he struggles to be a man, the way his father wants
Alannah Davis
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A YA novel. In 1972, 16-year-old Paul's older brother Chris is serving in the Army in the VietNam war. Despite the fact that Paul has always felt shadowed by Chris, the family's golden boy, he longs for the war to end so that Chris - who has always been a good brother to Paul - can come home. Chris does come home on a short leave, during which he entrusts Paul with a secret: Chris is gay. Then Chris returns to the war and is killed in action, leaving Paul dealing not only with grief, but with th ...more
Heidi Cullinan

I will start this review by confessing that I never connected to it. I tried, I really did, but the first person narrator was not exactly endearing. It's possible that as a staunch LGBT advocate I had less than usual patience for him, but..yes, I don't know. He was very whiny. I get why, but he was so self-centered and so incredibly slow to change--he has a rather miraculous turn around at the end, but I didn't trust it coming.

Most of the time I wanted to beat Paul about the head. While I'm qui
Robin Graber
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-as-hell
I could not put this book down. Robin Reardon's other main characters have all been gay. But she's done something in this book that I've never seen before. She made the main character straight, while still making another very important character gay. While most LGBT books focus on gay characters, Reardon's book focuses on how a straight teen deals with meeting a homosexual, learning about himself, his brother, and life in general.

While I was a little weary at first, since I was used to her gay c
Gino Alfonso
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another thought provoking tear jerker by the wonderful Robin Reardon. The story asks some heavy questions of teenager Paul Landon who learns of his older brothers dark secret - he's gay and asks Paul not to tell anyone, just before he leaves again for Vietnam after a short leave home for thanksgiving break (don't worry no spoilers - all this on the back cover) and shortly after returning is KIA and Paul must learn to accept his brothers secret by asking himself - what makes a man? The answers co ...more
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I loved the honesty the main character, Paul, shows us. I really got to know Paul as he struggled not only with growing up, but with learning his older brother is gay, then killed in the war. He makes real mistakes. He fights with his parents. He want to grow up, yet wants his parents love like when he was eight years old. Struggling to survive as his family falls apart after the death of their "favorite" son, Paul finds himself forced to work for his dad as punishment for get ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was a great book showing 1) how harmful stereotypes are and 2) how meeting and spending time with someone you have negative stereotype feelings for can help you understand that person more. I think the author did a great job of showing how someone can gradually change their views by spending time with someone they feel uncomfortable with. If all you know of someone with another religion, viewpoint, race, or sexual identity is what you've been told, then you really don't know much. I love th ...more
Brian F
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fiction
This was a really good book. It would've been a great book but for one aspect. It contained what should have been a subplot about dog training. I understand the metaphoric purpose of this subplot. The problem is that the "subplot" really took over probably half the book. It became the main plot for most of the second half of the book, except for the very, very end when it went back to the father-son(s) dynamic. I understand the point of this sub-plot and its role in advancing the greater story. ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it
I appreciated Reardon's viewpoint from a young, angry, insecure man and his summer of discovery as to what 'manhood' means.

Reardon tends to go a bit over the top with some of her personalities, creating clear villains and some rather 'saintly' characters. I prefer slightly more realistic people, but she managed to maintain just enough realism with them that I wasn't put off.

Paul, in particular, was a difficult character for me to enjoy. Being the protagonist, I found his attitude and personali
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea behind this book, but the execution just didn't do it for me.

Paul has got to be the most ridiculously stupid, annoying and whinny 16 year old ever. I can appreciate that teens can do some stupid things, but this kid just didn't learn. I grew very irritated with him.

I didn't care for the writing style, I've read some POV from a teen's perspective and they were fine, but with this book it also was annoying. Reading inner dialogue followed by "you know what I mean..." repeatedly
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-themed
This book brings you into the time period wonderfully without being kitschy. The main characters are engaging, and JJ, the dog whisperer is such a good vantage point for Paul to bounce his thoughts off of when thinking about his own brother and what his fate means. It was heartfelt and interesting. Maybe one of the best gay YA novels, and that means a lot since the main character isn't gay. Its about coming to terms with many facets of life at an early impressionable age, and steps clear of all ...more
Not Reardon's strongest book, but it was a novel concept telling a story about LGBTQ identity through the eyes of the heterosexual brother dealing with his brother's coming out/secret. The narrative was clean and concise, differing from Reardon titles like "The Evolution of Ethan Poe." The time shift was interesting because young readers of the gay and lesbian community seem to think that gays have only existed recently. Even at 23, I forget that once, in America, homosexuality was illegal. Defi ...more
Janice Crespo
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Without spoiling the plot of the story, you will enjoy this book no matter your sexual orientation. It takes you inside many problems that are faced growing up - being in the shadows of an older sibling and being around someone of the gay orientation and learning that there is nothing to fear but quite a bit of knowledge to gain! No matter what your preference, you will get something out of this book - much more than an afternoon read - the depth is amazing!
Duane Colwell
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
As always with Robin Reardon's stories, extreamly well written and interesting. However, I found Paul's ignorance a little over done. I'm not sure if 16 year olds are really that dumb. Also, he seemed to be a nice kid, so why did he not have any friends except those obvious losers, Marty and Kevin? Over all, I did enjoy the book, perhaps not quite as much as her previous ones.
Oct 31, 2010 rated it liked it
L'intrigue était bonne, l'histoire aurait pu être plus émouvant mais le héros était tellement narcissique que dans le trois quart du livre, tu veux juste le baffer. Il veut tellement attirer l'attention sur lui, parce qu'il persuade que ses parents aimait son frère plus que lui. Bouhhhaa!!!
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I'm an inveterate observer of human nature, and my primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender—people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity. My secondary writing goal is to introduce readers to concepts or information they might not know very much about. On my website, ...more
“Was Chris a man?"
Now, there was something to ponder. Was he? He'd been strong and brave, and not stubborn. He'd killed other men, he'd saved other men's lives.
He kissed other men. And he'd cried and cried.
I closed my eyes. But then the dog said, "What makes a man not a man?"
Eyes open, I said, "Kissing another man."
"Yeah. Is there something unkissable about a man?"
I smirked at the black and white furry face. "No, stupid. Women kiss men."
"Was Chris a man?”
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