Friday, August 24, 2012

"Tales of Foster High"

Review - "Tales of Foster High" by John Goode

Probably the best YA series out there

Very Highly Recommended

This is a compilation of three previously released works about two young men, Kyle and Brad, and their coming to terms with their homosexuality and how it affects their lives when they come out. The works are heartfelt, direct, amazing pieces, and I get chills every time I read them. I have reviewed them individually, and will share them collectively.

"Maybe with a Chance of Certainty"

"I don't remember the moment I knew I was broken...but I do recall when I started to understand it might be okay. It was the moment I fell in love with the boy with the green eyes."


Kyle is the loner in school - intelligent, socially awkward, alcoholic abusive mother. Gay.

Brad is the star of the baseball team, one of the gods of high school. Popular, beautiful. Unattainable.

When Brad asks Kyle to tutor him in history, it sparks a change in both young men that has to be read to be savored.

I LOVED this book. And I cannot wait for the sequel.

Mr. Goode captures both boys so heartbreakingly well. I found myself aching and crying with the care he invested in these characters. Other writers looking to capture what it is to be a gay man, or a boy, or whatever, should read this and pay close attention to the voices, especially of Kyle. So many don't get it right, that it is scary and unreal and that you feel broken when you realize you are different.

I wish I had had this to read with I was a teenager. Or even in my early 20s. At 50, I get it now. But the fragility of these boys' hearts and the fear and the ache and the love. Beautiful. it. Please.

"The End of the Beginning"

This fine book picks up where “Maybe with a Chance of Certainty” left off. Responding to Kyle’s being bullied, Brad has outed himself to his classmates to protect Kyle. We find Brad the next day, contemplating what he has done, and doing some soul searching. Did he do the right thing? Can he take it back? What will his friends thinks? His family? Teammates? Can it be undone?

In the course of dealing with all this fear, which is ultimately what this book is about – fear, and will Brad master it – he meets a kindred spirit. Tyler, an older and hopefully wiser version of Brad, helps him in a weak moment. He recognizes himself in Brad, and gives him the best advice of his young life - “Trust me, living with a life full of regrets is just about the shittiest way I can think of existing.” God, where was my Tyler when was 16, 17, 18?

“I promise you the only thing worse than being a rat trapped in a maze is being aware that you were that rat.” With one simple observation, Brad’s soul is bared to us.

Where “Maybe…” was more about Kyle, this is definitely Brad’s story. We find out much more about what makes Brad tick, his fears, his hopes, his family, and most importantly, what he wants out of life. And we see, though his eyes, how very tough it is to be young and gay in a small town. How love can make us vulnerable when nothing else can touch us, and how fear can grab even the toughest of us by the throat and the heart and shake us until we are weak. How even knowing the right thing to do can scare us so badly, we will give up on ourselves and the ones we love to protect what is. Because what might be – no guarantees there, are there?

And that, in turn, makes us take a hard look inside. And makes me wonder, if I were in Brad’s position, what would I do? And that, my friends, is the sign of a great writer. Most anyone who writes can tell a competent tale – it takes an artist to make us stop and think. To hold up a mirror and invite us to look, think, feel. And make no mistake, with this book, Mr. Goode is an artist.
“At that moment I knew I’d follow him anywhere he took me.”

I feel the same way, Mr. Goode. Keep writing like this and take me with you.

"Raise Your Glass"

It's been only two days since baseball jock and school BMOC Brad came out to the school in an attempt to support his boyfriend, nerdy and invisible Kyle. The repercussions haven't really hit either boy terribly hard yet, as they skipped school the day before, and now will have to face the music.

The reaction at home has been mixed. Kyle's mother, gone agan, isn't a factor. And Brad's parents are, as usual, fighting over the news. It's at school where the dread will come in. Brad picks up Kyle and, drawing on other for strength, they head in to Foster High.

The kids are waiting. The news has spread, the gossip ripe. Whispers greet them everywhere they go. Conversations stop as they walk into their classes. Students once friends now look at Brad like he grew an additional head. For Kyle, it means he's noticed now.

But with attention comes conflict, and the underlying homophobia Kyle feared. And it comes out - verbally, physically, emotionally. Even to the point where Brad may not be allowed to play baseball, since he might...become aroused by the bodies around him. Never mind he's been dressing out in locker rooms for years. Never mind he is counting on a scholarship to get the hell out of North Texas.

Will the pressures of being out be too much for Kyle and Brad? How will the school, and the school board, deal with openly gay student? And, most importantly, will the boys be together and safe?

John Goode has once again delivered the goods. This is an emotionally stunning, powerhouse...gem of a story. The two characters, Brad and Kyle, leap off the page with verve and conviction. They grabbed my attention, my love and my heart.

This is a hugely relevant and important series. Nobody else in the genre has captured the pure psychological weight on the shoulders of gay teens, and how truly fragile, yet strong, these kids are. Brad on his own was maintaining, hiding his true self under a self-hating persona. And Kyle was living day-to-day, counting the moments until he was out of school.

Ah, but together? These two together have found something special, something that makes them more than just the sum of the two wholes. They found synergy. And with that, they can make it through.

There are horrible things that happen along the way in this book - deeds that can't be undone, words that can't be unspoken, hurts that can't be taken back. But alongside all that - there is something more. Something underlying all the pain and the fear and the hate.

The unspoken forces that Mr. Goode has given us here are Hope and Love.

Hope for these two boys. Hope for at least some of the people in this small Texas town. Hope for their parents, their friends - old and new. Hope for other gay men and women there.

And love. The love of a young man for another. A parent for their child. Love of self.

This book moved me to tears. Joyful tears that Kyle and Brad will make it. That they are not alone. And that it does get better.

Fine job.

Read this wonderful series and enjoy!!!


1 comment:

  1. I've been seeing John Goode's name out there for a long time but haven't read him yet. This series looks like something I'd enjoy. Thanks for highlighting him, Tom!