When Love Comes to Town ~ Book Review ~

Publication Date: 1 Mar 2013

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

ISBN: 9780807589168

With a new introduction by James Klise

First US Edition!
25th Anniversary

The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.
First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Loves Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality.

Ages 13-up/Grades 7-up

Praise for the 1993 Irish edition
“In many ways his work is superior to The Catcher in the Rye.”–Irish Times

My View:

I recently had the opportunity to read an Advanced Review Copy of a very powerful book.  That book is entitled “When Love Come to Town” by Tom Lennon.  WLCTT was originally published in 1993 in Ireland by Irish Catholic school instructor Lennon (which, by the way, is a pen name in order to protect his job at said school).  I would imagine that this was a very controversial book when it was first published.  Lets think about how the world was 20 years ago?  The Internet was in its infancy, it was there but mainly only is use by scholars.  SmartPhone, Facebook, even email were just a pipe dream.  Troubled and lonely teens had few outlets to find like minded individuals.  Okay you in the mind set of 2 decades ago?  For your reference the Summer of 1993 would have been between my freshman and sophomore years of High School.  WLCTT will be re-released 1 Mar 2013 by Albert Whitman & Company.

I am neither male, nor gay, but I think this story is powerful enough that transcends the specific subject matter.  It is a coming of age / coming out story of one Irish bloke the summer between 6th year and Uni.  I won’t say it is a story of acceptance because that is not what he receives, necessarily.  But it is his journey, no-the-less.  He is an average joe with a painful secret that he has kept for many years.  He wars with himself for lying and for hiding, but he doesn’t see another way.  It is told in the third person from Neil’s perspective.  You get a unique view of action in both standard narrative and interesting stream-of-consciousness bits.  You know what he is thinking; you feel what he is feeling.  You hurt with him; you laugh with him.  But you also hurt FOR him.   The last chapter of the book is one of the most powerful I think I have ever read.

*** Warning there are plot spoilers ahead so please read at your own risk ***

WLCTT is a story of one Irish blokes journey to come out.    Neil Byrne has known since he was about 10 or 11 that he liked guys not girls, but his friends, family, and neighbors are all very vocal against the “life-style”.  He spends his days with his “rhyming couplet” (i.e. straight couple) friends, laughing loudly and pretending to be a part of something from which he feels so separate.  He lives in a state of loneliness and depression, more than once wondering about ending it all, all the while crushing on a beautiful boy from school.  One the encouragement of his best friend, Becky, he goes into a Gay Pub in Dublin one night and inadvertently begins his journey.  He meets an interesting cast of characters over the ensuing weeks, some less savory than others.  He ends up the victim of a hate crime, with a boyfriend that he can’t declare and who won’t declare him, but he finds some friends and level of acceptance from them that helps him face what he needs to do.  Until it all comes crashing down…

**** End Spoilers ***

I would love to say that on the 20th anniversary of the initial release of this powerful story the world had rendered the story unnecessary, but we all know that it is more necessary now than ever.  With more teens becoming open about their sexuality, more and more teens are being bullied, harassed, killed, and forced to take drastic actions.  The information age has brought them a place to feel acceptance but that same information age has brought all new avenues of ridicule.

I am not the most eloquent of writer/reviewer, but I hope you won’t hold my lack of eloquent words against this powerfully, enduring story.  I encourage you to read it and pass it on.  It will get relegated to the gay/lesbian Young Adult genre at most book stores (online or brick-and-mortar), but it should be read by all.  It teaches a powerful lesson about acceptance.  I warn you, however, have a few tissues handy.

 

Thanks to netgalley.com and Albert Whitman & Company for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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