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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Swimming to Chicago by David-Matthew Barnes

Publication Date: 10/18/2011
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Pages: 264
Format: e-Book
Source: netGalley
Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Summary:
Reeling from his mother's suicide, seventeen-year-old Alex Bainbridge retreats from the world around him, often finding solace on a secluded island behind his house. As an Armenian-American living in a small Southern town, Alex struggles to fit in. His close friendship with the outspoken Jillian Dambro is his only saving grace, until he meets and falls in love with Robby LaMont—an introverted new student at school. As the year unfolds and the lives of the adults around them unravel, the three teens form an unbreakable bond, vowing to do anything to stay together—even if it means leaving everything behind.

What a weirdly entertaining book.  Alex has always had trouble fitting in, but over the summer he has found out something interesting about himself.  He is gay.  He doesn't want anyone to know, including his best friend Jillian Dambro.  Jillian and Alex have been friends since forever.  They tell each other their secrets and the school thinks they have been in a relationship with each other for the longest time.  Then, a new family comes to town.  Robby LaMont is gay and interested in Alex. Alex is also interested in Robby.  Jillian finds herself attracted to Robby's father, who happens to also be her English teacher.  This attraction leads to a lot of consequences for everyone involved.

This book was told in four different viewpoints.  We heard from Alex, Jillian, Martha (Robby's mother) and John (Alex's father).  It was difficult at times to keep these viewpoints separate.  The stories didn't seem to mesh well together at first, but once the book moved further along I understood the reasoning behind these four viewpoints.  We were able to get more of a back story by learning more from the view of the different characters involved.  This was a heartbreaking story that caused a lot of sadness, but also brought success for Alex and Robby.  In the end, these two were able to live together and in the open.  They were able to accept who they are and move forward.  These teens went through some tough times, but were able to make the best decisions for themselves.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  It made me think once again about how we need to fight for acceptance for gays and lesbians.  We need to stop the bullying in schools and prevent these actions from occurring.  I think this book highlighted the need to stop bullying and the fears gay high school students have when deciding whether or not to reveal their sexuality.  I had a couple of issues with the book in terms of following the characters, but in the end it was a pretty good read.

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