Medina, Nico. “The Straight Road to Kylie”, Simon and Schuster, 2007.
A Mild Obsession
Surely you have noticed that teenagers today are much more aware of their sexuality than ever before. It certainly seems they are coming out earlier and are more at ease tan my generation was. Nico Medina looks at teen sexuality in “The Straight Road to Kylie” and has created a wonderful character with Jonathan.
Jonathan Parish is a well-adjusted teenager who lives in Winter Park, a well-to-do suburb of Orlando, Florida. His friends include Joanna who has been unlucky in her relationships with boys. She and her two friends spend a lot of time with Jonathan. He listens to their woes and teaches them all of the new dances. Jonathan is also an “out” gay teenager and is kind of the pet of his class. He himself is on the edge teetering between self-esteem and total sexual confusion. He knows he is gay but can’t seem to act on it.
Jonathan finally loses his virginity after getting drunk at Joanna’s birthday party but to a girl. This enhances his reputation and he becomes the object of Laura Schulberg’s affection. Laura happens to come from a very wealthy family and she, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tempts him with both opportunity and wealth. She needs a boyfriend and so she gets Jonathan to pose as her “man” and in exchange will give him a trip to London so that he can see his idol, Kylie Minogue, in concert.
Now we have reached the core of the story—Jonathan faces the problem of having to decide which is more important—see Kylie or entering the closet. Everyone knows he is gay but he, himself, made the decision to sleep with a girl. When his classmates found out that gay Jonathan had sex with a girl, he was looked at with different eyes. When agreeing to act as Laura’s boyfriend, Jonathan had no idea of how much he would lose. Going back into the closet was, in effect, living a lie and those that were his friends suddenly turn their backs on him.
Dealing with the theme of self-acceptance, the book is amazingly funny. Jonathan’s road to self discovery is paved with obstacles that will have you laughing aloud. We also see how hard it is for a teen to deal with his sexuality and that the wonderful world of youth is filled with problems.
Reminiscent of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Kylie” is a wonderful addition to the literature for and about gay teens. Seeing what one young guy goes through to achieve his own kid of happiness made me realize that even though it seems to be easier to be young and gay, it is not necessarily the case. Along with the pleasures of youth are also the rough times and sad trials that adolescents face. Medina has written a wonderful book which although is written for a younger group pf readers has a great deal to say to everyone.