Johnny Diaz's Reviews > A Question of Manhood

A Question of Manhood by Robin Reardon
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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 in Vietnam too.
Burden with guilt, Paul struggles to carry that secret as he tries to live up to the man that his parents remember Chris was.
In Robin Reardon's third novel, "Question of Manhood,'' we meet an insecure and frustrated Paul as he wrestles with his brother's last secret.
Paul personifies the angst of any typical teenage boy who is trying to establish his own manhood in his home, school and work but can't compete with his parent's memory of a perfect son.
The summer after his brother's death, Paul is forced to work at his father's pet store. There he meets an attractive and smart new employee named JJ, a Latino college freshman.
Through JJ - a Dog Whisperer if you will - Paul finds another older brother type, a mentor who happens to be gay. And through JJ, Paul learns about respect and taking responsibility for your own actions. Most of all, Paul learns that being gay isn't wrong, just the way someone is. Through JJ, Paul learns how to be a man. Paul gets a second chance of better understanding whom his brother was.
Reardon believably channels the voice and inner thoughts of 16-year-old straight boy, which isn't easy to do. From his first sexual experience with a prostitute to caving into peer pressure from a troublesome friend, Paul's thoughts ring true on every page even though at times he comes off as selfish.
Reardon's storytelling is also rich in detail. She lightly reminds you that the book is set in 1972-73 by referencing the cars and movies (Day of The Jackall) that were popular at that time as well as the costs of things.
But the scenes that were most affecting were the ones between JJ and Paul in various dog training sessions.
In those scenes, the reader sees Paul gradually warming up to JJ. Although Paul is suspicious and jealous of JJ at first, he begins to respect and accept him as a friend.
While the book takes off slowly, the story picks up steam once Paul starts working at the pet store as each dog that comes in has a different story to tell. By example, JJ shows Paul how to use patience and psychology to calm these untamed pets.
This isn't a book you want to read fast. Rather, it's one you want to spend some time with to savor the storytelling. Through dialogue that radiated authenticity, Reardon made this reader feel like he was sixteen years old all over again and that's a good thing.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 31, 2013 – Shelved

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