- A mainstream children's books publisher has released
a novel aimed at teenagers that features a 10-year-old boy's experiences
- Strange Boy is thought to be the first "gay book"
aimed at the youth market since the Thatcher government introduced the
Section 28 legislation to prevent the "promotion" of homosexuality
in schools. Simon and Schuster, the book's publisher, expects schools
and libraries to stock it.
- The novel, by Paul Magrs, describes the main character's
sexual development - he has a crush on a 14-year-old friend. While it
contains some sex, it is not graphic and is not a dominant theme. Strange
Boy also describes the protagonist's family problems, bullying at school
and his belief that he has magical powers.
- Simon and Schuster acknowledged that the decision to
place the book on its youth list, aimed at children aged 13 and over, will
- Stephen Cole, who edited Strange Boy, said: "Some
people will doubtless pick up on the gay elements of the book, which are
treated frankly and honestly, as being shocking and controversial. I would
argue that the real controversy of Strange Boy lies in the fact that it's
not making a big deal out of having a gay child as its protagonist. It's
just a given, like the colour of his hair or his love of Marvel comics.
This is not an 'issue' book."
- Magrs, 32, said the book was largely autobiographical,
and defended it as an accurate portrayal of a young person's development.
"I stick by the truth of it. It's true for me, and it will be true
for other people. People from all sorts of backgrounds and persuasions
will find something in this book that they will recognise."
- A review on the cool-reads.co.uk wesbite, which is produced
by teenagers for young readers, gave it the maximum five stars. The reviewer,
a 15-year-old boy, says about the main character: "David doesn't
have to worry about school, because it's the summer holidays. This should
mean David's life is easy, but it isn't, it's a chaotic whirl of messed
up lives, family feuds, confusing feelings for boys, adults that ask him
to tell the truth but seem to prefer it when he lies. David doesn't know
whose side to be on, who to turn to, or how to cope in this by turns comic
and dramatic story about childhood's end."
- Jim MacSweeney, manager of Britain's longest-established
gay bookshop, Gay's the Word, said there are not many books dealing with
homosexuality that are suitable for young teenagers or their parents.