Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Switch by Douglas Davey


  Series: N/A
Author: Douglas Davey
Page Count: 252
Published: October 24th, 2014
Publisher: Red Deer Press
  5 Stars ★★★★★

Things change for Sheldon on the day that he finds himself undeniably attracted to another guy. While he's definitely attracted to his girlfriend, Jenny, he can't ignore what he's been feeling and struggling with, and he fears that he might be gay. After some research, he discovers the word bisexual, and decides that it fits him much better than either gay or straight.

When he decides to come out, things don't exactly go as planned. Instead of the calm acceptance he expected, his girlfriend freaks out, he becomes distanced from his friends and his peers start to bully and threaten him. He's afraid for his well being, and even for his life. When he finds a group of classmates who are similar to him, he doesn't feel so alone anymore. But will things work out for him? 

I don't even know how to describe how much I loved this book. I got super excited to find a book featuring a bisexual person, a bisexual boy at that, because bisexuals, and in my opinion especially bisexual guys, are often underrepresented in fiction. Not only is he bi, but the author actually explicitly uses the word bisexual! I was super happy to find a book that didn't dance around with the words 'gay' and 'straight' and surpass bi altogether, as many books I've read often do.

Anyhow, aside from my excitement over representation and all that, the story itself was amazing. It seems like an ordinary story, a contemporary young adult novel describing coming out, bullying, and finding a community. But to me, it wasn't. This book discussed the actual things that LGBTQ people deal with, sometimes on a regular basis, and it did so honestly and with a unique and likeable voice. It dealt with the emotional turmoil that Sheldon, the main character, was feeling, and included themes of self harm and biphobia, which were both heartbreaking and breathtaking in their portrayals. I love how the author wasn't afraid to include biphobia from other members of the LGBTQ community, which is so often glazed over, and that while Sheldon dealt with self harm, it wasn't over-dramatized or exaggerated, but incredibly realistic. I mean, I actually cried. And I was in public too! I think that sums up how emotional this book was for me, personally. 

Something that really stuck with me was the idea that anyone could be like Sheldon - struggling with who they are, afraid of what their future holds, dealing with rejection. The book also included footnotes on many pages, with Sheldon as an older adult giving commentary on his life situation after coming out. That also added to this idea of anyone possibly dealing with what Sheldon dealt with, because it was kind of like a reminder that there are older LGBTQ people who have lived through a much less tolerant time. For example, the author says, in the interview at the end of the book, that this was set in 1988. While it seems like only a short time since then, lots has changed, and to have a look at what things were like back then was eye-opening, and I appreciated having a historical setting.

Unfortunately there were a few negative things, such as some typos, but nothing major. I was happy to see pansexuality mentioned, however the footnote defining it made it seem like pansexuals are attracted to absolutely everyone, which I'm guessing was not the author's intention, but rather a strange wording or misinterpretation of the wording itself. The majority of my thoughts on this book, however, are incredibly positive, as you can see. 

I most definitely recommend this! If you're interested in LGBTQ narratives that take place in the past, this would be a great pick. For those looking for books about bisexuals, coming out, and bullying, this is the perfect book. 

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