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The Before Now and After Then
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Book of the Month > November 2014 BotM - The Before Now and After Then -*Spoilers*

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Kaje Harper | 16674 comments Our November 2014 Book of the Month is The Before Now and After Then The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn by Peter Monn

Feel free to discuss the book or related topics and post reviews. This thread may contain spoilers, so if you haven't read the book yet, proceed at your own risk. I look forward to discussing this with the group.

message 2: by Kaje (last edited Nov 04, 2014 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kaje Harper | 16674 comments The publisher for this book is offering our group a 20% discount on the book if purchased through their website.

From Dionne at The Pen Name Publishing:

"Via our website, www.pennamepublishing.com, books can be purchased for 20% off using the code LGBT2014.

If print copies are ordered, they will take 2-3 weeks via our website, so please let people know the best way to order print would be through Amazon, barnes & Noble, or requesting a special order through their local book seller. However, the discount for digital copies is fantastic!

We can't wait to chat about the book with you this month. I'm sure Peter will chime in towards the end."

message 3: by Kaje (last edited Nov 25, 2014 08:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kaje Harper | 16674 comments Finished the book - my review:

This book is surprisingly non-angsty in tone, to me, for the story of a seventeen-year-old whose twin brother is killed the day he also comes out to his parents, as they also decide to separate over the dad cheating. The world has fallen on Danny, but he closes it all inside, and through the book his responses are a bit muted. That's a matter of perceptions, of course, and for some this book may evoke far more emotion. I actually thought the tone was apt especially at first, because as the main narrative opens, six months after Sam's death, Danny is still pretty frozen in non-reaction.

Having lived all his life in the shadow of his more popular and skill-blessed brother, Danny has been left bereft not only of his best (and only) friend and brother, but also of any sense of self. He's let Sam define both of them all along, other than knowing his own sexuality. And the day he put that difference front and center, Sam died. Danny has a white room in a new house, with all his memories packed away in the closet. His parents let him shut himself off from his old life, school and friends, for six months after his brother died, and the result is a void where nothing much touches him. He's had therapy, but his therapist has let him get away with not talking in sessions for six months as well. (This pushed my belief a bit - Danny is quiet, but not stunned into immobility, or severely socially anxious or mute. And six months is a long, long time. A competent therapist should have coaxed him at least somewhat past that point before now.)

Anyway, Danny is beginning at a new school. In the first day, he experiences some bullying for being gay, and is befriended by Cher, who pounces on the possibility of a gay best friend. I wasn't totally convinced by Cher initially, although she was cool and created some of the book's fun moments. Her insecurities and complexity became more visible later, which helped.

Danny also sees Rusty, the first boy who really, really rings his "I want that" bells. Danny's known he was gay for a long time, but until now it wasn't a really personal thing in his day to day life. Suddenly there's a flesh and blood guy he actually knows whom he'd like to date. That's the crack in his indifference, that will wedge open the shell around everything he's been going through, and let the real Danny emerge.

I did like the way the gay component of his life wasn't a source of big angst for Danny. Despite the fact that it made him different from his twin, he's content with that part of himself. It causes problems with bullying, but he's more concerned about hiding that from his mother than traumatized by it. Having a gay "Uncle" Alex who is a family friend and who is clearly accepted and admired within his home as a famous writer no doubt helps. I like Alex as mentor and parental figure for Danny, with just a hint of hands-off understanding that was no doubt supportive for Danny. His mom was appropriately more clingy, although honestly? I thought both his parents had themselves together more, and clung to him less, that I might have 6 months after the loss of a child.

There is a little, low-impact childhood sexual-abuse moment described which goes nowhere much. I think it could potentially have been left out, since it neither informs the behavior of the adults noticeably, nor seems to have had a big impact on Danny himself. There are a couple of moments when the topic comes into play, and then goes away. Maybe that's the point, that it happened, but wasn't a big thing, and didn't define him.

If there was something that felt out of place in this interesting book, it was the relationship between Rusty and Danny. It happens fast, and it has far more perfect than awkward moments. Rusty is too good, and too eloquent, to feel quite real. Admittedly, a life of moving around place to place trying to find help for a severely ill sister will make a guy grow up fast. But still, he'd claimed only one previous boyfriend, and yet he knew the right things to do, the right gifts, the meaningful gestures and words. It was lovely, but felt idealized. The speed I could believe - teens often fall head-over-heels that quickly. But usually they're afraid to share it, and unable to express it that well. When Rusty screwed it up at last, it was a highlight.

The book is well written, and a fast, easy read. There are a few more typos than there should have been, and a couple of homonym confusions, but unless you're a stickler for editing they don't interfere. And it's nice to read a teen gay coming of age novel where the gay aspect is only a bit of the whole picture and not the most emotional one. This book didn't touch me deeply, but that may be a matter of taste in prose styles. I did enjoy the read.

message 4: by Raymond (new) - added it

Raymond Lambie | 10 comments I am reading it now, I find it fairly staggered, and slightly slow moving, however I am enjoying the way it seems to be going.I would welcome any suggestions on things to read.

message 5: by Kaje (last edited Nov 27, 2014 12:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kaje Harper | 16674 comments Raymond wrote: "I am reading it now, I find it fairly staggered, and slightly slow moving, however I am enjoying the way it seems to be going.I would welcome any suggestions on things to read."

We have lots of great books out there. If you're looking for gay MCs and a bit more plot, you might like
Vintage: A Ghost Story (paranormal)
The Celestial (historical)
Thinking Straight (contemporary, religion and LGBT, a little sex, abuse theme)
Tales from Foster High (coming out, M/M relationship)
Vivaldi in the Dark (depression and romance)
Fearless (Bittersweet/sad)
Know Not Why (funny, coming out)
The Student Prince (free, urban fantasy, a little sex)
Lord of the White Hell (2 books - high fantasy, a little sex)

Or go to Looking for a YA book about... and tell us what you like to read.

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