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50 Ways of Saying Fabulous Paperback – July 25, 2006
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Yes, this is another novel about gay adolescence, and there is little here that hasn't been covered before: anxiety in the locker room, ineptitude on the sports field, attraction to the popular guys at school, etc. Nonetheless, this portrays reality, and there are numerous features that combine to make the book a highly worthwhile read. In particular, Billy's incredibly authentic voice holds an all-too clear mirror up to the confusion, anguish and torment of gay youth's self-awareness. Billy's plight is genuine, and conjures up feelings and memories experienced by many of us in childhood - not to mention anger at the knowledge that millions of young people still suffer this treatment daily. It is also refreshing to see a somewhat more-realistically aged protagonist experiencing sex, desire and first love, rather than the implausibly naïve and virginal 15/16 year old teens that tend to emerge from many coming of age novels. Further, by presenting Billy as an (initially) unlikeable character, the novel offers an interesting opportunity to revisit those aspects of our own characters that we despised about ourselves as we grew up.
It is also worth noting that a film (by the same name) has been made of this book, sensitively done and well-acted.
An engaging and seamlessly-penned début novel. Highly recommended.