A few issues with Openly Straight

Openly-StraightOpenly Straight is a book about Rafe (Seamus Rafael) who has come out of the closet in eight grade and everybody in his home town knew him as the gay kid. His parents were more than fine with it and veryn supportive. He wanted to try out something new, so when he started a new school he decided not to be gay, or at least not to say he was. He wanted to try out what it would be like for people to see him just as Rafe, not as gay Rafe.

I liked parts of this book, but as a whole it simply did not work for me. I liked Rafe and his crazy parents, I liked Albie. I liked the writing and the humour and I really enjoyed the way Rafe tried to reinvent himself.

  1. The biggest problem with Openly Straight is that it’s neither flaky nor serious, and it fails to find a balance between the two. It goes from cheesy romance to serious life issues in a heartbeat, without achieving a smooth transition.
  2.  I’m really not liking the writing professor who gives sage advice about life and writing. I find it tiresome, and in Openly Straight the part where Rafe writes and his professor comments is completely useless and doesn’t add to nothing to the story, except for dubious writing advice.
  3. Ben had no place in this story, in my opinion. As much as I liked their bromance and found it cute, it felt too cute for a book that was trying to deal with issues of identity. If it was a story for itself, if it was a flaky love novel about a gay guy and straight guy getting all agape and eros on each other, maybe I could have mustered it. I think Openly Straight would be much better if there was no love story, and if Ben and Rafe were just friends. It would have done wonders for the book.

All things considered, Openly Straight is a good effort, a fun book to read and it does ask some serious questions and it answers some of them. In my opinion, it could have been better, but it was still worth the while, if nothing for those times it had me laughing silly.

There’s one thing that really struck me as awesome, and it has to do with Rafe’s problem with everybody looking at him as this gay kid and thinking who knows what about him.

“It was like the world opened up to me at that moment, and my thoughts tripped over one another. I was staring at this effeminate kid, and judging my own masculinity, or lack thereof. And was I so different from everyone else? Who was to say what Mr. Meyers in Boulder was thinking about when he looked at me? How come I was assuming his staring at me had anything to do with me? It was probably all about him. Same with everyone.”

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