“Just a Boy”–a teen finding himself

Clinger, Rob. “Just a Boy”, The Haworth Press, 2007.

A Teen Finding Himself

Amos Lassen

It is so good to have a book that deals with teen gay sexuality honestly that teens can read, as well as adults, and that is clean enough to be included in a library. “Just a Boy” is just that book. It is sweet and it s tender and above all else it is sincere. Rob Clinger touches on all the issues that young gays feel and he does it in a way that is both readable and enjoyable. All of us can remember, I am sure, what it was like knowing we were different in high school and not being able to talk about it to anyone. Times have changed a lot and as boys are coming out younger, even if they have gay friends and mentors, the feeling of isolation is still there many times.

Jove, our hero, embarks o his journey of coming out, first to himself, with the fears that we are all too familiar with. As he feels different, he works at keeping his friends, playing roles and suppressing his sexuality. It is hard to pretend especially when it is necessary to do so all day, everyday. It is even more complicated when girls find you attractive and you find your next door neighbor, a male, to be the object of your desire. Jove knows that he is gay and he manages to still do what he does everyday and remain in the closet. However, when his neighbor is outed by another good friend, Jove is appalled and his friendship is tested. To pass the test, he fids a way to combat the rumor.

Jove is a high school wrestler who looks like the regular teenager but he feels and knows he is different. When he realizes that Beth, his “girlfriend” is really not what he wants, he develops a crush on Jason, his classmate and neighbor. He is happy being in the closet but when it comes time to act, to do what is right for himself and for Jason, he does so and finds the answers to the questions he has yearned to know.

“Just a Boy” looks at the issues of youth today, at that too short period before manhood, that time when life consists of puppy loves and first kisses, first and last chances and self discoveries.

“Just a Boy” handles all of this beautifully. Here is a book we can all read and enjoy and perhaps find the answers to the questions we all have.

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