Homo by Michael Harris

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Book Reviews, British Columbia | 0 comments

HomoSummary: When someone overhears Will come out to his best friend Julie at a summer party, the announcement makes its way onto Facebook and Will is forced to start grade twelve outed. Despite the bullying another gay student named Daniel receives at Spencer High on a constant basis, Will finds on the surface his coming out doesn’t make much of difference. Looking closer reveals people are okay with his sexuality as long as he is not like Daniel. Struggling to find a committed, romantic relationship, Will turns to the internet and meets Riley, a slightly older man with a secret who provides Will with an escape from the closeted town his lives in. But when the secret is revealed and the lives of his friends start to fall apart, Will figures out what he is really looking for in a relationship and who is important to him.

Number of Pages: 142

Age Range: 16-18

Review: Will is an astute observer learning to embrace who he is during a turbulent time in his life. Outed at school but not bullied, Will reads between the lines to realise as long as he doesn’t ‘act gay,’ his fellow students will pretty much leave him alone.

But there are two problems that accompany this knowledge. Will knows the only way he can be free to be himself is to leave town and escape to university in Vancouver. But his friend Daniel who is more flamboyantly out is doomed to remain the target of the high school’s bullies because he refuses to be forced back in the closet.

At his core, Will is a teen with a perhaps idealistic view of love, but also a desire to be in a relationship based on romance and commitment. I wonder how long he would have stayed with Riley if Riley hadn’t told him about being HIV positive, because even without the lying it was clear they had different motivations for being in a relationship.

Not always a likeable character because of his self involved nature, I did like how Will’s growth included him realising that sometimes finding a place to belong isn’t as difficult as it seems. By the end of the book Will had a community with Riley and his friends, but also with Julie and Daniel in the town he thought would never accept him.

Memorable Quotes:

“Julie was talking about her electives, but I was think about all the tiny lives people were about to lock up in those tiny lockers. People, most people, don’t have much to show for their lives, I figure. Most people, if you bust open their locker, will disappoint you with how boring the contents are. Gym clothes. A mouldy sandwich. Maybe, if you’re lucky, a badly written love letter shoved between the pages of homework.” – Will from Homo by Michael Harris, page 13

“Mr. Hix started droning about the grade system. I stared at this poster he’d stuck up on the wall behind his desk. It had a bunch of kids of different races all laughing in a meadow with the word ‘Tolerance!’ blazing over their heads. Freaky. You ‘tolerate’ a teacher’s bad breath. You ‘tolerate’ your mom’s annoying friends. And, on that first day of grade twelve, I got the feeling that a lot of the kids, and even the teachers, were ‘tolerating’ me.” – Will from Homo by Michael Harris, page 15

“Afterward . . . I had thought I would feel so connected. To him. To myself, even. But all I felt was that something had come undone, or something had failed to come together. It was the same feeling I had on the night we did cocaine with his friends. A brief spasm of hope, a pure sensation promising so much, followed by a long quiet stretch of fearful aloneness. I pressed myself tighter to his chest. But he said, ‘Babe, babe, I’m suffocating,’ and rolled away.” – Will from Homo by Michael Harris, page 101

“But I was getting defensive by then, on Riley’s behalf. I decided to try something out. I said, ‘Hold on. Wouldn’t you want somebody to date me if I got some virus? Or would you want me to never have a boyfriend at all?'” – Will talking to his parents from Homo by Michael Harris, page 111

“Once Dad realized what had happened, he came around the kitchen table and crushed into the side of his baggy suit in a lock of a hug. ‘We love you, guy.’ I let him hold on as long as he liked, listing sideways in my chair, wondering why it was only violence and shock that could make him say these things out loud.” – Will from Homo by Michael Harris, page 127-128

Homo by Michael HarrisĀ is published by James Lormier & Company Ltd., Publishers, (2012).

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