Books Change Lives: Guest review by Lindsey

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend by Carrie Jones

Belle Philbrick and her boyfriend, Dylan have been together for what seems like an eternity. Their relationship has become a permanent fixture in their small town, along with the fact that Belle's dad is no longer around and her BFF Em's photo-holic attitude. But then Dylan confesses that he's gay, and everything changes. Now, Belle must survive her Senior year without her "Golden Boy" and with accusations of being a "Fag Hag." Belle tries to recover from this shocking news and resulting heartbreak by making lists on everything relevant to her crumbling life.

Belle's situation isn't a typical one, but it's one that I have experienced firsthand. When a guy dumps you because he likes boys, it often brings up a couple of questions:

1. Was it my fault? Did I do/say something to make him like boys?
2. Could we still be friends? Would I still be able to look him in the eye and remember all the memories we shared and not miss the relationship?

A few months after I went through this, I saw Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. Now, I happen to judge books by their cover, and Tips really caught my eye with its flashy scrapbook-type cover. Before long, I had delved into the novel headfirst and refused to come up for air.

Not only did Tips have excellent structure and have a unique raw eloquence, but Belle's voice helped me find comfort. I discovered that things aren't always what they seem. It wasn't my fault (and it never is) if a guy I liked was gay. I had to pick myself back up and find a way to get over it.

Carrie Jones represents what a first novel should truly be like. She sits you down and says, "This is how it's going to be. Enjoy the ride - hands and legs and all other body parts are free to move outside the ride." So, in a very untraditional (but appropriate!) manner, she conducts this book and makes people really think about what it's like to be on the bad side of a broken relationship - and how to resurface after the fact.

This is the type of novel that you rarely come across, but when you do, it makes you sad to finish this gem of a story. It's one that is well-worth a second read. Or a third. Or five-millionth.

*Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend also has a sequel, Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape, which is fabulous and just as life-changing.

Check out Lindsey's fantastic new book blog You Didn't Hear It From Me!

This guest post is part of Book Change Lives September, on Hey! Teenager of the Year. To read all the guest posts, click here.
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