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Leave Myself Behind Paperback – April 1, 2004
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Noah York is a closeted gay teenager with a foul mouth, a critical disposition, and plenty of material for his tirades. After his father dies, Noah's mother, a temperamental poet, takes a teaching job in a small New Hampshire town, far from Chicago and the only world Noah has known. While Noah gets along reasonably with his mother, the crumbling house they try to renovate quickly reveals dark secrets, via dusty Mason jars they discover interred between walls. The jars contain scraps of letters, poems, and journal entries, and eventually reconstruct a history of pain and violence that drives a sudden wedge between Noah and his mother. Fortunately, Noah finds an unexpected ally in J. D., a teenager down the street who has family troubles of his own. Rape and other physical violence, alcoholism, and incest--the novel describes these abuses in a brutal, matter-of-fact way that may leave some readers uncomfortable. Most of the time, however, Yates effectively captures the honest, sometimes silly, often tender interactions between his fragile characters. James Klise
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"The voice of Noah York is beguiling, impudent and wise. Noah's honesty made me remember how it feels to be seventeen when only humor and friendship can save you." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The protagonist in this novel, Noah York, clearly has the voice of the author's life experiences but with the comical and "reality bites" point-of-view of a 17-year old boy.
At times funny, at times poignant, and even psychotic, this simple story about a boy and his mom and the twists and turns their lives take after the death of the father/husband is just plain beautiful. As Noah comes to terms with his father's death, his sexuality, his mother's mental illness and the intolerance of his peers, we are treated to his witty and highly insightful interpretations of what it means to be a human being in a complicated world.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it's well-written, has deep and richly-drawn characters, and a main character that will keep you engaged as he goes on his journey of being a boy yet becoming a man. I'd give it 10 stars if I could.
Noah and his mother Virgina York (a poet) move to New Hampshire from the big city of Chicago when Noah's father has suddenly died. Once transplanted to New England, Noah slowly comes to grips with his sexuality, Virginia as slowly becomes crazed with the house they've purchased since it is the former dwelling of another woman poet and contains mysterious Mason Jars within the walls that unravel an entirely different (and equally entertaining) novel!, and the small town of Oakland, New Hampshire peels away secrets of gay bashing, incest, rape, alcoholism, insanity and any number of bizarre twists.
The solid anchor of this book is the language and tone and insight of the narrator - Noah York - who at seventeen has a rich imagination, a wry outlook, a way of thinking and expressing himself that makes all the madness of the dysfunctional world fall into place for us, the readers. This could be called a gay novel, but though it very sensitively and sensuously relates the blossoming of love between Noah and the boy next door J.D. and then incorporates the reality check of being openly gay in a small town highschool, it is much more than that. This novel has many rich and surprising stories and comments on our world today and presents all of this information not in an offensively preachy manner, but in a way that reveals exactly how vulnerable and needy we ALL are when it comes to loving and being loved, being without love and groping for it.
Some novels just get to you and this is one. Bart Yates, please write another and another. You have so much innate talent and gift for story telling that it is simply mind boggling! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED reading for just about everyone who loves good books.
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Before I discovered Leave Myself Behind at the public library when I was 16 I'd never realized that there could be...Read more