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The Lost Language of Cranes
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Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Set in New York City in the 80s, smack dab in the middle of the AIDS scare, a diverse group of people try to navigate the gay and lesbian scene, and try to adjust to the changes in the world.

Philip meets Eliot and falls in love for the first time. His love inspires him to come out to his parents. His parents have different reactions- especially since his father has been closeted his whole life.

I really enjoyed this. I feel like it was an accurate slice of time- I remember the 80s well, and how the LGBT communities were finding their footing. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the NYC scene, but from what I’ve read, this is consistent. I remember how hard it was for my friends to come out to their parents, but how it was easier for them to come out to friends. And I think I only know one or two people from older generations who were/are openly gay.

The emotions, the experiences, and the characters were so beautifully done. My heart broke for Owen, Philip’s father, because society told him how he was to be. My heart soared for Eliot’s guardians, because they stayed true to themselves, society be damned. Brad’s parents loved and supported him no matter what, while Jerene’s parents cut her from their lives completely and lied to their families about her whereabouts.

This belongs on the list for the skillful handling of a once difficult topic, and for how it captures an important place and time in US history. Leavitt is a master at character development. My only criticism is that there was too much focus on Philip’s angst.

Spoiler alert: the cranes in the title are the construction kind, not the birds. :)
4.5 stars


Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 4 Stars

I won't go into the books plot, because Tracy did a great job with that already. I enjoyed this book and felt it was beautifully-written and addressed many issues faced by the LGBT community during the mid-80s. The descriptions of place were so good, I really felt transported to 1980s NYC. I also appreciated that the sex scenes were not too graphic and not a primary focus of the book. I like to think that coming out is easier and more accepted today than it was back then, or I hope so, anyway.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 4 stars

This is a beautiful book with characters who will stay with me for a long time. Owen and Philip are interesting and well-developed. Leavitt uses the fact that both men are gay as a way to show various struggles of coming out and self-acceptance. It is a lovely exploration of the reactions from those we love. As the mother of an LGBTQ child I found myself experiencing many feelings. I was at times sad for Owen, worried for Philip and angry at those they loved.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
The Lost Language of Cranes rating 3.167

1986 novel by author, David Leavitt, set in New York and addresses the son's decision to "come out" and tell his parents about his being Gay. The book deals with relationships with Philip's boyfriends and in that it is a bit of a romance. It deals with relationships of Philip with his mother, with his father. The title of book comes from a new article about a child who developed his language from watching cranes (construction) outside of his window. (a bit like Are You My Mother).

I found the book to be hard to get pulled into. The first part was slow, the second part a bit better. I didn't feel it was well developed). I wanted to like this book because I really enjoyed his book,The Body of Jonah Boyd. In this book, set in the 90s, it does address the fear of AIDs and how this drove these young men into wanting to find permanent relationships where they could have safety. It also deals with the difficulties that older men had to deal with prior to the option of "coming out".


message 5: by Amanda (last edited Jan 31, 2021 07:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amanda Dawn | 1234 comments I really loved this book and gave it 5 stars. Agree with the points already made about why it’s a meaningful story. Something I don’t think mentioned yet that I really loved about it is that chose to make the metaphor about the change from the closeted earlier generation to the emergence of openly gay culture through the difference in life experiences between father and son.

It kind of felt like a cross between Fun Home (with the intergenerational homophobia in one family), and Swimming Pool Library (about navigating gay identity in the 80s), both of which I loved as well.


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