Shades of Gay, by Stephanie Silberstein, is a novel about the trials and tribulations of two gay seventeen year old high school students that fall in love. Arthur is a good student that had never been in any serious trouble, and seems to have his life together. But he has a secret, a part of himself that he keeps concealed from others around him, Arthur is gay. Most of his days were spent pinning away after boys in his school, hoping that no one would realize that he was different.
Mitch moves in next door, and everything changes, Arthur no longer wants to hide who he is or the feelings he has for him. Wrestling with the disapproval of a drunken father, and a mother who kicked him out for liking boys, Mitch is hesitant about having a relationship with Arthur. Enter Emily, Arthur’s best friend, who tries to help them fight the injustices they face when they go public. One problem…Mitch has feelings for Emily too, and Arthur struggles to keep his jealousy from affecting his relationship with both of them.
When Arthur realizes that he and Mitch are headed down different roads in life, reality sinks in and he is faced with choices he had never considered before. This story is told in first person, by Arthur. Stephanie Silberstein does a great job of conveying the chaotic and perplexing emotions that teenagers deal with daily. Whether you are still in high school, or have been out of school for years, Shades of Gay easily takes you back to the emotions you felt when you were an insecure teenager, uncomfortable in your own skin, trying to find your way and fit in somewhere.
I enjoyed reading Shades of Gay. I felt drawn in to the conflicts of the story right away, relating to each character and their feelings. Anyone who has had to come out knows the anxiety and relief that go hand in hand when finally showing someone who you really are. Through the difficult process of coming out to everyone, Mitch, Arthur and Emily each portray a different aspect on what life is like for gay teenagers, and the confrontations they face from themselves and others. Issues of suicide were touched on, showing the self-loathing that some face when dealing with the mixed emotions of what they feel is right but are told, and sometimes believe, is wrong.
There were times when I felt that the story became a tad redundant, having high anticipation for the development of the relationship between Arthur and Mitch sort of fall flat. However it all came together well as the book came to a close. More importantly if you are looking to read a book that shows the desire to be who you are, and the courage to face adversity, step forward into the unknown, and be okay with the challenges life throws at you, then Shades of Gay will definitely deliver.
This is a must read for anyone looking for a realistic story about love, loss, growing up, and confronting our fears and the people who stand in our way. I was given a copy of Shades of Gay by the author. This review is my own personal thoughts and opinions; I was not compensated for writing it.