Wednesday, 28 February 2018

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Book Review)

Raunchy, riotous and real” (James Dawson, author of This Book is Gay)

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award in 2014, Raziel Reid is the youngest ever winner of this award. Calls for the award to be stripped because of the books content have thankfully been ignored.

This is the story of Jude, a junior high school aged boy who is flamboyantly gay and very comfortable with his sexuality even though very few of his peers are. His best friend is a self acclaimed “Slut” and his family is a mess.

It reads quite well and is fast paced. You get drawn into the World of Jude but when he retreats into his fantasy World of movies to hide from what’s really going on around him it can get a bit confusing. But, maybe this is indicative of life in the 21st century for teenagers, with so much going on around them they probably have to retreat at times. From about the halfway point, I realised the book was building to something huge and this is the only reason I kept reading but the ending was, unfortunately, very predictable.  At about 160 pages it’s a quick read and I read it at one sitting, although if I was a slower reader I would be compelled to keep reading to find out what happens.

It’s the debut novel for Raziel Reid ( and is certainly not shy or modest in anyway. In my opinion the book is crass, violent and unnecessarily graphic, but it is viewed as a book with subject matter that is important, relevant and perfectly appropriate for young adults. I disagree. Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting banning or limiting its availability to young adults, I think it is more suited to the 15+ teens. Whilst I like books that push the envelope, it’s constant vulgarity and page filled jock-shock just doesn’t work. It’s like if a friend rarely curses and then shouts out – Oh for FxxK’s SAKE – you pay attention but the friend that can’t say a sentence without some expletive you ignore. A little less in this book would have been better.

It is so important to question violence and homophobia and to initiate debate but I don’t think this book should be the starting point. This book is loosely based on the real story of Larry Fobes King who was shot in school after asking his crush to go to Valentines with him so either his story, that of Matthew Shepard or in Ireland the story of Declan Flynn would be a better starting point to start a debate.

For those who don’t know who Declan Flynn was check HERE

A quote from the original article reads - Bonfires were lit and street parties were held in celebration in Fairview as the five murderers returned home to heroes’ welcomes

33 years later, people laid flowers at the bench Declan sat at before he was murdered on the day Ireland voted YES for Marriage Equality.

There are moments in the book where there are cracks in Jude’s armour, in his fantasy World and there are moments of gentleness, protectiveness and reality which are really important. However, the overpowering style of the book stops you seeing these important moments. For this reason I give it a 7 out of 10 planets.

Other LGBT books I have reviewed are

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan HERE

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde HERE

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green HERE

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli HERE

John the Captain Ryan

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