Carrie Jones (Maine) holds an MFA from Vermont College's prestigious Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She is the New York Times bestselling author of NEED and CAPTIVATE. Along with several column, editorial, sports writing and photography awards from the Maine Press Association, Carrie was recently awarded the Maine Literary Award for TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND. She lives with her family and pets in Maine.
Gr 9 Up-Senior Belle Philbrick is known as one half of her rural Maine high school's most established couples; everyone in town just assumes that she and Dylan will get married after college. When he confesses to her that he is gay, Belle doesn't know how to react. She wants to be there for him, the boy who had been her best friend for longer than they had been lovers, but his coming out is devastating for her. She knows that being an openly gay student in her small school is not going to be easy for Dylan; however, she didn't realize how difficult it would be to be known as his former girlfriend. Soon, Belle, too, is the target of stares and taunts and, as she tries to get through that first week after their breakup, she finds support from an unexpected ally who seems to offer a new chance at romance. The provincial Maine setting is richly described as a natural haven with the potential to both encourage and impede growth, and Belle's challenge to find nourishment there is well realized. The novel suffers a bit for its length; however, it introduces fully three-dimensional characters facing and reacting to Dylan's difficult decision to, by Belle's observation, "be gay in a world where gay is dangerous-where gay means you can die because you've loved." Jones offers an atypical perspective of the coming-out story by legitimizing the love that is not lost, but changed, when young people grow up and apart.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Jones's debut novel has a provocative premise: Belle is stunned when her longtime boyfriend Dylan-the Eastbrook High School "Harvest King" to her "Harvest Queen"-reveals that he is gay. She questions her ability to know who anyone truly is ("How long did he know? How many times did he kiss me and wish I were a boy?.... How could I not notice?"), but also worries about how Dylan will be treated in their small Maine town. Belle is surprised to find out that, days after their breakup, Dylan already has a boyfriend; she cautiously begins her own romance with Tom, who has long carried a torch for her. Jones offers a convincing small-town environment ("There are no secrets in Eastbrook," Belle jokes with "a hideous movie ghoul laugh") and the author's poetic prose ably captures her heroine's emotional upheavals ("Each want stomps itself into my heart.... I want a life where there are four stable walls and the people I love are who I expect them to be"). An array of major plotlines-Belle's heartbreak, her and Dylan's new relationships, a thug that threatens both Dylan and Belle and the former couple's attempt to salvage their friendship, among others-can make it difficult to know where to focus. Additionally, some character quirks, such as a German teacher's proclivity for dressing in costume, seem a bit scripted. Still, even those who can't identify with Belle's exact situation should readily empathize with her and gladly accompany her as she gradually rallies and finds new love. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.