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I know God doesn't make mistakes, and if I'm gay it's because that's what he wanted. What you wanted. And I think the challenge is to get everyone else to see that. This is their test, not mine.
If only Taylor Adams had kept on lying to his parents, none of this would have happened. He wouldn't have been shipped off to Straight to God, an institution devoted to "deprogramming" troubled teenagers and ridding them of their vices--whether it's drugs, violence, or in Taylor's case, other boys. Not that Taylor has a problem with being gay, or with reconciling his love for God with his love for his boyfriend Will. . .
At Straight to God, such thoughts--along with all other reminders of Taylor's former "sinful" life--are forbidden. Every movement is monitored, privacy is impossible, and no one--from staff to residents--is quite who they first appear to be. There's Charles, Taylor's clean-cut roommate, desperate to leave his past behind. . .Nate Devlin, a handsome, inscrutable older boy who's alternately arrogant and kind. . . gorgeous, secretive Sean, who returns to Straight to God each year to avoid doing prison time for drugs. Here, where piety can be a mask for cruelty and the greatest crimes go unpunished, Taylor will learn more than he ever dreamed about love, courage, rebellion, and betrayal--but the most surprising lessons will be the truths he uncovers about himself.
In this smart, insightful new novel, Robin Reardon presents a compelling exploration of the journey from boy to man, and a testament to the strength that comes with accepting both who we are, and who we love. . .
Reardon's stirring novel grapples with homosexuality and born-again Christianity. When Taylor Adams comes out, his parents ship him off to Straight to God, a camp for those who have gone astray. The nightmarish camp seeks to exorcise the satanic influence from its charges, some of whom are gay, and some of whom are petty criminals or drug addicts. The camp's strict guidelines include no speaking for newbies (who wear yellow stickers on their clothing), the writing of Moral Inventories to be shared with group leaders, and prayer meetings. Taylor is furious about his incarceration, but through his intellect and open nature, he discovers leadership qualities in himself and learns that not everyone is the religious automaton they appear to be. Reardon's first novel (A Secret Edge) was geared to young adults; this new book, which includes frank language and sexual encounters, tries to reach out to older readers, albeit sometimes awkwardly (the explanation of text message like acronyms, for instance, is clunky). While the extremes of the evangelical movement are harshly depicted, Reardon does a decent job overall of staying off a soapbox. The result is thoughtful and convincing.