Wednesday, July 25, 2012

* Trevor *

Michael Cunningham calls Trevor "an important book," and it's pretty hard to argue with him.  The novella is an updated version of the 1994 Academy-Award winning short that inspired the founding of The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing life saving information and support to LGBTQ youth. 

The story opens with a Harold and Maude-esque scene in which thirteen year old Trevor is face down on his front lawn, playing dead.  As the narrative continues, it becomes clear that he is bright, hopeful, and artistically inclined, stands up for his passions (among them Lady Gaga and George Gershwin) and has several close friends.  Though he sometimes feels neglected at home, he respects his parents and realizes that they are "merely busy... I am not exactly inspired by the type of work that they do, but I totally appreciate the fact that ever since I can remember they have kept a roof over my head and sent me to school fed and fully dressed.  As their only child, I have always had pretty much everything I need." *

It doesn't sound like the beginning of an activist novel.  Trevor is strong-minded and comes from a relatively supportive environment.  Like many middle schoolers, he is sometimes clever and sometimes hopelessly naiveoften mature, and on occasion almost unbelievably childlike.  And Lescesne hits certain universal adolescent moments spot on.  When Trevor discovers that his mother has been reading his e-mails, he recounts:
"She had a fit and then we had an all-out fight.  I told her that my private life was none of her business and maybe it was crazy but it seemed to me that I ought to be able to have the freedom to express my own private thoughts in the privacy of my own room and on my own 'personal' computer.  She claimed that I was still too young to have any kind of a life that didn't concern her, personal, private or otherwise.  'I'm your mother,' she said louder than was absolutely necessary. 'And in case you haven't noticed, I am in charge of your life.' "
But as events progress, it becomes obvious how Trevor's innocent pursuit of happiness is hampered by the assumptions of his friends and family.  The specter and stigma of "gayness" quickly turn his world upside down.  Terrorized by his peers, Trevor begins to consider taking his own life for real.

Trevor is important because its protagonist does not represent a single character, but serves as a vessel for the joy, despair, and alienation that LGBTQ youth can encounter every day at school and at home.  The book emphasizes the importance of acceptance, trust, and the types of close personal relationships that provide teens with the support they neednot only to go on living, but to feel healthy and safe no matter what their sexual orientation may be. 

On sale August 2012 from Seven Stories Press, New York City.
Seven Stories Press believes publishers have a special responsibility to defend free speech and human rights, and to celebrate the gifts of the human imagination.
A portion of the proceeds from Trevor will benefit The Trevor Project.  The back pages contain an author's afterword and information about the organization, as well as a guide listing crisis hotlines, support networks, and other resources for teens.

Kim Prosise  

*Quotes are from the uncorrected advance proof and may not exactly match the final book

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