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The Blue Lawn Paperback – May 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 460L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books; 1st Alyson edition (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555834930
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555834937
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,541,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

[New Zealand] humorist Taylor turns to serious subject matter in this emotionally charged story of love between two teenage boys. His accurate, nuanced writing shows rather than tells of the awkward advances and skittish retreats of 15-year-old David Mason as he struggles to understand his attraction to slightly older Theo Meyer. David feels like he is entering a foreign place when he visits the more outspoken Theo and his Polish grandmother (who insists David call her "Gretel"), yet the way David feels when he is with Theo seems even more alien to him. Being a rugby star at school ceases to be important, and David quits the team. He spends his time with Theo helping to landscape his grandmother's yard. The relationship between the two boys is cut short before it can fully develop physically (Gretel sends Theo back to live with his mother). Although David is devastated, it is clear that he will survive and continue to grow into an individual as unique and remarkable as the "blue lawn" surrounding Gretel's home. The strength of the novel lies in Taylor's ability to explore David's and Theo's feelings for one another in honest, raw dialogue, but the author goes perhaps one step too far in detailing Gretel's torturous past in Europe during WWII. He proves to be more deft in expressing his adolescent characters' pangs of longing, fear and regret. Ages 13-up.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up-A study of a powerfully charged friendship between two teenaged boys in rural New Zealand. From the moment 15-year-old David Mason sees Theo Meyer, an outsider who smokes, drinks, and drives fast, David is drawn to him. Theo is also attracted to clean-living David. A violent locker-room confrontation between the two betrays a mutual passion that neither one quite understands, or is willing to accept. David soon becomes a regular at Theo's house, where he meets the boy's grandmother, Gretel, a Holocaust survivor. As the seasons change, measured by Gretel's garden and her lawn of grape-hyacinths, David and Theo's relationship grows, and both teens are aware of its sexual energy. While David is so well adjusted to the possibility that he may be homosexual it strains believability, Theo struggles with the idea of being "queer." When Gretel discovers the teens together, she separates them and their friendship is suspended. Their relationship is symbolized by the blooming of the blue lawn, a testament to the beauty in being different. While David and Theo come across as multilayered individuals, other characterizations are less successful. David's parents are blithely supportive background figures and his sister is immediately accepting of his homosexuality. While there are too few positive examples of coming out, here it is too pat. The boys' intimacy goes remarkably unnoticed and unchallenged in their school and in the larger community. This absence of social conflict makes the thread of Holocaust history awkward rather than integrative. A thoughtful, if slightly flawed character study.
Jennifer A. Fakolt, Denver Public Library
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Toby Sanders on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
David and Theo are best friends. In fact, they care about each other so much that Theo's grandmother begins to wonder if their friendship may be something more.
First love can be sweet, but it can also be confusing and a bit painful. This is especially true when the adults around start trying to help to make things better. As much as this story is about a teenage romance, it is also about how adults do not only choose the best thing to do even when they are trying to be supportive. It is also about how the emotions of our children are as powerful, as real, and as true as are our own.
It is refreshing to find a teenage romance in which romance actually takes the front seat. There should be more books like this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found the bok to be well researched and beautifully written. It allowed the characters to explore their feelings and understanding of their sexual awareness without it being overtly obvious to the reader. I feel the author has portrayed the boys human relationship in a positive and touching manner and one that many a young adolescent young man could easily relate to. I say well done to the author for having the "guts" to write on such a sensitive and often tabu subject that effects societies worldwide. A GREAT READ and congratulations to William Taylor
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matt Watson on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've read and reread William Taylor's book a number of times. Every time I am impressed with the way he manages to invoke the realities of life in small town New Zealand and especially the pressures faced by adolescent males in a society which holds rugby stars and good keen men tantamount to deities. This fact of New Zealand life needs to be kept in mind when reading The Blue Lawn - much of the inherent value is lost without reference to Kiwi culture. Taylor's characters are credible and authentic. I tend to agree with comments that the allusion to the Holocaust (in Theo's grandmother) is perhaps unnecessary, but I can understand Taylor's motives in using the motif in the book. I disagree with those who feel The Blue Lawn lacks more about rugby - this is not a sports book, it is about two boys who happen to play rugby (as most boys in New Zealand do at some stage) and their nascent relationship, emotional and sexual. All in all this book is a great read and I'd recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Powers on October 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the better books I've read on the subject of coming out, aimed at a young adult audience. But that's not saying much. I think a kid who is struggling with his (or her) identity would be better off reading and 'adult' book like Edmund White's gorgeous "The Beautiful Room is Empty". The writing is what elevates this book to better than average. The plot is fairly typical. A young, gifted athlete (why are they always athletes?) discovers his attraction to another boy is mutual. At first they don't discuss this attractions; instead sublimating with fast driving, wrestling, and a hunting expedition. The author began to lose me when, after the boys confront each other with their feelings, they remain incredibly chaste, even during mutual showers and nights spent in the same bed, half-nude. They learn to sublimate their sexual feelings by long runs followed by the aformentioned showers. The main character, David, while seemingly less worldy then Theo, seems willing. He is physically more powerful than Theo, more imaginative, and at times more persuasive in his arguments so it isn't too big a stretch to imagine him finding away to gently force the issue. Theo, who seems to have little control over his other appetites; smoking, drinking, fast driving; has remarkable self-control when it comes to sex. Naturally, this is a young adult book and the author has to be fairly discreet but one has to suspend their disbelief a bit far to accept that with all their opportunities (they are left alone for the weekend on more than one occasion) they don't even kiss.
Also, with such a short novel, short even by young adult standards, the author should have concentrated on one storyline; that of the two boys and their developing relationship.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
All I want to say is this is one "helluva" a good book. I liked the style in which it was written and I believe anyone who buys it won't be disappointed. The author has treated the subject of homosexuality in a very touching and sensitive manner. It's a great story.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matthew E.Torrey on January 15, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
This is one of the most difficult reviews I have written. First of all, I am a 37 year old, gay man from the U.S., so I know I am not the average reader the author expected to reach. However, I am a consultant to a library about gay/lesbian youth books, so I read dozens of "coming of age" books every month. "The Blue Lawn" threw me for a loop. The New Zealand language is stunning and beautiful to an outsider. The way the author also blended the effects of World War II into the book and the present is fantastic. Most of the characters seem so real.
However, the book lacks a few key elements. Without reveling any of the plot for those of you who decide to read the book, allow me to try to explain. The boys are so quick to anger, yet never seem to reach any degree of real longing for each other. Their anger, due to their love/lust for each other, comes so quickly; but when presented with opportunites for physical contact and expressions of their apparent love, they fall short and I find it hard to imagine that two 16 year olds would not have progressed beyond a simple kiss and sleeping in the same bed (clothed). While I understand that the author may have wanted to avoid any explicit sexual situations (as I believe this book was written for the younger reader), he could have at least had the boys been a bit more physical - something more realistic in this day and age.
If I may be so bold as to offer advice to to the author... take this book, expand it a bit more, explore each character a bit more and make the relationship between the two sixteen year olds just a bit more realistic. You kept them just a bit too pure and a young gay boy reading this book may want to know that doing more than just sleeping in the same bed is okay.
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