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When Love Comes to Town Hardcover – March 1, 2013

3.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-On the cusp of his 18th birthday, Neil Byrne nears graduation, wants to study liberal arts instead of engineering as his father expects, and suffers through all the apprehension and agony of being a closeted gay teen. As readers accompany him on his journey of slowly coming out, they are immersed in his struggle amid homophobia and the culture of Dublin, Ireland, in the early 1990s. Neil's pub visits with his "rhyming couplets" of friends evolve into solo trips to local gay bars and clubs where he meets new friends and his eventual first boyfriend. As he draws closer to telling his friends, the tension builds; when Neil comes out to his parents, the intensity of the experience and their initial rejection is palpable. Lennon tells a mostly dark and serious story that is pre-Internet and -mobile phones, offering none of the extended, globalized support of today. Neil is jumped leaving a pub late one night, struggles through a friend's losing battle with AIDS, and is rejected by some of his family and friends. Lennon does well to lighten the story through tender and uplifting moments, and his use of song lyrics and music add to the book's sweet complexity. The near-tragic ending and realistic portrayal of what it would be like to face some of the darker forms of bigotry and rejection make this title a worthwhile addition to most libraries.-Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

The year is 1992, and 17-year-old Dubliner Neil Byrne, star rugby player and Sinead O’Connor fanatic, is finishing up Catholic high school. With his eighteenth birthday on the horizon, Neil’s looking to confide his secret—he is gay—to a carefully selected few and take steps to revealing his true self. This means clandestine trips to the one gay club in town, befriending other gay men, and crushing on T-shirt-wearing Sean and schoolmate Ian. As a foreword written by James Klise reminds readers, the novel, first published in Dublin in 1993, paints a picture of coming out in the 1990s, in a time before gay-straight alliances and “it gets better” campaigns. Over the course of the novel, Neil is beaten up because of his sexuality and watches a friend succumb to AIDS. In spite of all Neil faces, and the 20-year gap between him and today’s teens, this story feels relevant. The plot is somewhat crammed towards the end, but Lennon’s honest portrayal of coming out, available for the first time in the U.S., makes for a worthy addition to library collections. Grades 9-12. --Ann Kelley
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: AW Teen; Reprint edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807589160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807589168
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,054,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It's not that this is a love story kind of romantic novel. It's more like a wonderfully sensitive story of Neil Byrne, just graduated, just turned 18 in search of love. The kind of love he can dig his fingers into, feel, and return in full measure. Set in Dublin Ireland one witnesses the close-knit family life of Dubliners, from their happy moments to the moments that tear them apart. Neil's search for love and acceptance puts him on the outside looking in with his school mates, his siblings, his best friend, all "rhyming couplets" while Neil is different and vacilates between fitting in and going his own way into Dublin's gay night life. Here he sees both the sad and the promise of something happy for himself. He meets Shane, a beautiful man, who might be the love Neil is searching for. Something odd: author Tom Lennon chooses to become vague during the novel's crisis moments when Neil "comes out" to his friends, family, when he is gay bashed, and near the end when... well I can't relate what happens. This is the kind of book that draws you in immediately and keeps you spellbound and rooting for the main character. Lennon's true ability is to make you feel what the sensitive Neil feels in both his wins and losses. The truly romantic will love this book. The jaded and cynical will probably not. After all, it's a coming out story, set in Ireland, from the point of view of a teenager. The story is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always interesting and in many ways insightful. Ronald L. Donaghe is the author of Uncle Sean.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have a really hard time choosing how many stars to give this book. It's well written, it's interesting...but, it's also heartbreaking and infuriating... The big plus side to all this is how drastically different the world treats lgbt individuals now, as opposed to 20 years ago, and how drastically improved hiv treatment is now, which ends up being why it is infuriating. We should of gotten to that point way sooner, if people had paid attention to hiv, instead of brushing it off as "gay cancer", started researching it and it's treatments, sooner, we could of saved so many lives...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The beginning of this book was quite good. It had a sense of teenage humor and angst typical of an 18 year old. As the story continued there were maybe too many characters that muddled the story. Though the character of Daphne was interesting and sad at the end - the character of Shane was not developed enough. He said the age difference was too great - developmentally speaking - the gap really wasn't that great. Toward the end - what was happening in real time vs. what was happening in his head became confusing - so one of the biggest moments was so poorly explained - it just didn't move me - it was almost cliched. Ian needed to be way more prominent in this story to make this story really work.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the twentieth-anniversary edition of WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN, first published in Ireland in 1993. It's dated in some ways, particularly in protagonist Neil Byrne's love of Sinead O'Connor. But it's a book and a story that still has a lot to offer.

Neil knows that he's gay. He's afraid of what that means for his future, but he's starting to explore what it means for himself. He tells his best friend, he tells his sister, and he starts to secretly visit a local gay bar. His actions lead to encounters with a variety of people, from drag queens to an older admirer to gay bashers.

The appeal of WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN is not limited to gay teens or those interested in the history of gay literature. Neil's ill-fated romance with a self-absorbed jerk reminds me of several friend's early college relationships. There's always that guy, looking for someone not experienced enough to recognize his tricks, and Neil is not the first person fictional or real to fall for his charm. People are less afraid of AIDS and medicine has improved, but it's certainly a concern for anyone whose sexually active. And even if more of the world is accepting, coming out still isn't easy or always safe. Reading WHEN LOVE COMES TO TOWN, it's easy to see how far we've come and notice how far we've yet to go.

This is a very dramatic novel and I was often afraid it was going to end up horribly depressing, but I feel that it ended with a note of hope. Neil not only comes to terms with himself, but also manages to make most of his friends and family come to terms with his identity. He's the poetic, introspective type and kind of pessimistic, despite his sporty credentials, but that doesn't make him a delicate flower. He grows into himself quite well.
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Format: Hardcover
(This review was originally written in 2013 but was not posted).

This book took me quite a while to finish. I did move and stuff while reading it but, honestly, it wasn't one that held my attention enough to where I didn't want to put it down. It was one of those that was just kind of "I could be reading, I could not be reading. No big deal."

Most of the time it was just kind of "meh" for me. I'm sure different people will see it differently but for me it was just kind of a boring read and I often found myself having to go back and reread parts of simply because I had lost interest.

I feel like it went way too slow in some parts and then all of a sudden it was zooming through parts that should been drawn out more and elaborated on more. The end did throw me for a loop a little but overall I wouldn't read it again or recommend it to friends.

Rating: 2 Stars.
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