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The Boys on the Rock
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The Boys on the Rock

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  667 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Written with uncanny precision and wild humor, this is the story of Billy Connors, high school student in the Bronx, member of the swim team, and all-around regular guy, who in his sixteenth year has to face the fact that he's a little different from everyone else, a little "weird."

Though he's sort of going steady with a girl and popular at school, he's always worried that
...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 15th 1994 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1984)
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Frederick
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fox-john
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
S. W.
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was the first gay fiction novel I read - it changed my life!
Christopher
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A queer solo classic that I hope is still not out of print. (John Fox died of AIDS in 1990 with nothing beyond a few other short stories published. Stonewall Inn Editions put the novel back out in 1994, and I've seen it around even the occasional B&N.) A quick read that really could be the proto-type for every breezy, generic teen coming out book and movie. That is not a slight-The Boys on the Rock should be acknowledge for its footprint. As it came out in 1984, and takes place in the last s ...more
K.Z. Snow
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
4.35

Unique and delightful, especially in terms of the time period, setting, and narrator's voice. I've never read a gay YA story quite like it.

The only thing I found bothersome was the final chapter, which apparently bothered other readers as well. It wasn't the abruptness or ambiguity of it -- any slice-of-life novel, to be realistic, can't tidy things up too much at the end -- but rather Billy's seemingly cavalier dismissal of a man he deeply desired and claimed to love. Kids that age seethe w
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Erika
Apr 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt-literature
I'm yet to read a 'coming of age' book that I actually like. Came across this one on a second-hand bookstore and, well, my LGBT inner fan kicked in and I bought it.

I had several issues with the book, starting with the writing style; first time I tried to read it I had just finished with a vintage French romantic novel, so this book's writing felt like a bucket of cold water being dumped on me. When I finally got around picking it up again I still disliked the writing style and considered it too
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Kevin
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fast read, the main character is engaging yet very frustrating

A good coming of age story, I’m happy I read it, but I’m not sure I can really say much without spoilers.

Written in more of a stream of consciousness, the book is told from the point of view of the main character. It’s intensely teenagerish –teenage boys are not reliable narrators, yet they can be really intriguing.

Set in time frame of spring 1968 thru the summer, our narrator, Billy grows up. It’s really a fast read, so brace yours
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Adam
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
WOW

The Bronx, 1968, in the midst of political turmoil and Billy Connors meets Al DiCicco while Al is campaigning for McCarthy. Billy is a high school sophomore on varsity swim team, and Al is a twenty y/o aspiring politician who dreams of becoming the first Italian-American president. It's love at first sight, and in a Holden Caulfield whirlwind summer, Billy and Al experience the ups and downs of their adolescent romance.

This is one that will stay with me.
Lennongirl
An entertaining, believable story. Billy's feelings sound plausible and "real", and the sex scenes are handled very well.

Why I didn't rate it with three stars: I had minor troubles with the writing style, it was too hurried in places (especially the beginning, it gave me trouble getting into the story) and jumping around in places with an too often unreliable narrator - plus switching from past to present tense within paragraphs. And the ending felt rushed.
Anton
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
*** Spoilers, possibly***

Quite possibly the most authentic YA LGBT novel I've read. Rather than a) one of the main characters tragically dying and becoming a forever martyr to his lover or b) the two living happily ever after, true loves until the day they die, 'The Boys on the Rock' describes an almost painfully accurate first relationship between two young men. The kind where you say things you don't mean to, constantly shoot yourself in the foot, love them, insult them, overreact, and find yo
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Michael
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing and distinct short novel- Fox' s sole published LGBTQ work may seem like another late 20th century gay teen coming of age story in theory- but his world building, attention to detail and the distinct stream of consciousness-like voice for its protagonist Billy Connors allows it to stand on it's own. The first person narrative is written as I imagined I would've written it at sixteen, which makes the heartbreaking tale of Billy's first love come through all the more powerful.
Cerisaye
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although short, little more than novella length, this book isn’t lightweight. It’s one of the most powerful coming out stories I’ve read. An incredibly real account of teenage confusion about identity and self awareness worked through to a satisfying, albeit difficult, conclusion. The narrative voice is spot-on, so you imagine the book is addressed directly to you.

Comparisons have been made to Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. I haven’t read that book (shocking, I know) but it did remind me of Patr
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Harperac
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
It was some easy reading. I feel ambivalent about it - I liked it, but it was about the same kind of thing that I've read a zillion times before, and not significantly better. What I liked about it was it didn't feel like an exercise, it felt raw and human. Genuine. That is of course mainly due to the protagonist and his struggles, how they aren't candied up or made to seem darker than they are. We get a chance to sit with his not insignificant problems for a while.

I guess my issue is that the
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Ricardo
Oct 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I couldn't really rate this book without writing a review for my future self in case I ever want to reread this book. It's more of 3 1/2 stars than 4. Sometimes the writing matched The Catcher in the Rye. The beginning was slow but forgivable. A majority of the book was fast-paced (the book is also slim) and lovely in writing. I felt for Billy, honestly. But the ending? What happened? I've never been so confused. Everyone is angry so suddenly and someone is actually dead and only on the last two ...more
Michael
Picked this up as a fun summer read.

It caught that period of youthful transition of budding spring to wisened fall in this story of boys awkwardly figuring out who they are and what they want. And making decisions that ultimately put them on their paths already determined by life.

This book has a timeless feel because although it was published in 1984 and took place in 1968, the emotions and conversations could have taken place even today.

Knowing it took place in the 60s within this country it
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Miguel Angel
I really don't know what I really did not like about this book, but I found a lot of the conversations between Billy and anyone else to be bland and boring, or way too unreal (I would never talk to any coach about personal stuff like that) and I felt overall that John Fox tried way too hard to make Billy a second Holden Caulfield (the inner flap praises this book as a gay Catcher in the Rye), but I found the whole thing a slight rip-off. Also, the ending in this book was way off than I thought i ...more
Thomas
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this in my YA shelf, because I am not sure it is. I really liked this book, mostly. I really enjoyed the narrative voice and the fact he was so unreliable. It made me relate to him. I can't believe I am just now reading this, as it seems to be a formative work. The only thing I didn't like was the ending. It felt rushed. I was just like, "wait, what?" I knew what was going on because Billy had told us repeatedly what was happening that summer, but the whole Evan/Kevin thing really ...more
Steve Woods
May 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gay-fiction
There's not much here! Though there were passages that rang of the truth of an emerging gay sexuality in adolescence, in places it was poorly written, disjointed and smacking of a "gay" Mills and Boon though probably not so saccharine. I would recommend that people spend their money on something worthwhile this one is just a bit banal for my taste; especially since I have read some masterpieces recently. I found it a bit puzzling that Edmund White seemed to give it a thumbs up on the cover notes ...more
Casey
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club, lgbtq, fiction
John Fox died of HIV/AIDS in 1990, six years after publishing "The Boys on the Rock." His novel remains an influential prototype of young coming out stories, and I really enjoyed it in 2015. Strongly identifying with the main character's coming out process, I remembered all the bewildering and tough moments, and I got giddy right along with his excitement. A quick read for a gay book club in Manhattan; I highly enjoyed.

Gay rating: I'd give this to 19-year-old me if I could.
Quinn
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a real trip of a read for me. The coincidences to my own life at certain times were profound. The first person narrative was scary in its almost exact mimicry of my own experiences or thoughts in the same circumstances. The book was a marvelous read. I read it in one sitting when I should have been asleep already and remained captivated.
George
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Pretty good read about a boy coming to terms with being gay in the 60s. The narration style is really unique and very in character. The relationship is cute, but there's really no depth to it. Probably a book teenagers would find easy to relate to, the only thing that bothered me was the lack of depth.
Adam King
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I want more. Goodness this priceless gem is just that, priceless. The state of Connors' and Al's relationship towards the end was sad enough, then Evan's fate tipped me over the edge, I'm heartbroken.
Derek Fleming
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! This is one of the first 'gay' books I ever purchased - I would have been twenty-one at the time, and bought it while visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia... I wish I could remember the name of the bookstore. Anyway, I still think of it very fondly - a wonderful coming of age novel.
Mike Adams
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
absolutely one of the best short gay YA books ever. Stunningly brief, succinct, with a hint of 'Catcher in the Rye' without going overboard, this small book is exemplary of the literary loss from AIDS. Imagine what more poetic literature Fox could have written...
Vic Marriott
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I just got around to reading this book thirty two years after it was published. A book that can be read on many levels and all of them satisfying. An enormous accomplishment. Too bad John Fox did not live to give us more.
Lin
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, lgbt
Not bad. Reads quite quickly, which is a plus, although the ending does seem extremely abrupt.
Richard
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
Your mileage may vary, but this is one of the books that saved my life back in the day. Sassy, sexy, and direct.
Bill
Aug 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction
A pleasant coming of age/coming out story. Billy had little trouble accepting who he was.
Jake
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh my god it was sooooo good. I couldn't put it down. And I'm not a reader by any means omg I just wish there was more like I'm so angry I'm done with it
Jon Wilson
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite "Coming Out" story.
William
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This remains one of the great gay coming-of-age stories in a cluttered and not always that good genre.
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“Harold stuck his chest out a bit. "I'm the Senator's representative in this district," which made me think of the relationship priests supposedly have with God.” 0 likes
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