A Question of Manhood

( 8 )

Overview

November 1972. The Vietnam War is rumored to be drawing to a close, and for sixteen-year-old Paul Landon, the end can't come soon enough. The end will mean his older brother Chris, the family's golden child, returning home from the Army for good. But while home on leave, Chris entrusts Paul with a secret: He's gay. And when Chris is killed in action, Paul is beset by grief and guilt, haunted by knowledge he can't share.

That summer, Paul is forced to work at his family's pet ...

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A Question of Manhood

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Overview

November 1972. The Vietnam War is rumored to be drawing to a close, and for sixteen-year-old Paul Landon, the end can't come soon enough. The end will mean his older brother Chris, the family's golden child, returning home from the Army for good. But while home on leave, Chris entrusts Paul with a secret: He's gay. And when Chris is killed in action, Paul is beset by grief and guilt, haunted by knowledge he can't share.

That summer, Paul is forced to work at his family's pet supply store. Worse, he must train a new employee, JJ O'Neil, a gay college freshman. But though Paul initially dislikes JJ for being everything he's not—self-confident, capable, ambitious—he finds himself learning from him. Not just about how to handle the anxious, aggressive dogs JJ so effortlessly calms and trains, but how to stand up for himself—even when it means standing against his father, his friends, and his own fears. Through JJ, Paul finally begins to glimpse who his brother really was—and a way toward becoming the man he wants to be...

Praise for the novels of Robin Reardon

"Stirring...thoughtful and convincing." —Publishers Weekly on Thinking Straight

"A compelling story well worth your time...Reardon is an author to watch." —Bart Yates, author of The Brothers Bishop on A Secret Edge

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758246790
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 314
  • Sales rank: 994,305
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    This was a really good book. It would've been a great book but f

    This was a really good book. It would've been a great book but for one aspect. It contained what should have been a subplot about dog training. I understand the metaphoric purpose of this subplot. The problem is that the "subplot" really took over probably half the book. It became the main plot for most of the second half of the book, except for the very, very end when it went back to the father-son(s) dynamic. I understand the point of this sub-plot and its role in advancing the greater story. It was just far too much of the book. Nevertheless, the human part of the story was very powerful, well-crafted and, like any well-crafted story, with a few surprises. The voice of the main character was very good.

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  • Posted February 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is an unusual young adult novel focusing on gay subject mat

    This is an unusual young adult novel focusing on gay subject matter. It is different from the norm, in that the story is told from the point of view of a straight teenage boy. The plot focuses on him coming to terms with having a gay brother, and learning to be friends with a gay boy working in his dad’s pet supply store. The book is set in the era of the Vietnam War, so American society is much less tolerant and informed about homosexuality. Much is explored about why people feel about gay men as they do, and what it means to “be a man.” The story seemed a bit simple when it began, but as it progressed, I really like the way feelings and perceptions were considered and analyzed. This novel has some important things to say. It might be helpful to any boy learning to accept gay family or friends.
    Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    10 STARS

    An amazing story ... this story touch my heart on so many levels ... THANK YOU!

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A touching account of coming of age in rural America during the Vietnam war.

    A fact worth noting is this book is not about being a gay teenager. The main character, Paul, is straight and his own sexuality, it's never questioned. This is his journey toward tolerance of others' homosexuality.Paul faces a difficult relationship with his parents, increased by the guilty loving hating one with his dead brother, Christ. And the secret he took to his grave. A secret he confessed to Paul shortly before dying. Paul struggles with his memories, and the fact that being gay, makes Christ, not so perfect after all. Sadly, he cannot tell his parents, who worship Christ's memory. Ignoring how Paul languishes in the shadow of a brother who he will be never able to surpass. Paul's brief encounter with a prostitute gets him in trouble with the law, his father confines him at home, only allowing him to work at his pet supply store during the summer. Paul's duties include training JJ, the new employee, who seems nearly perfect and who is also gay. Paul is overjealous of JJ's qualities, and the admiration his own father has for him. Eventually, an unexpected friendship joins Paul and JJ, who will teach Paul, among other things, that manhood and sexual preferences are two completely different issues. The story intimate narrative reads as a biography, and there are moments when Paul comes across as selfish and biased. Other times, he is vulnerable and grief-stricken, inspiring sympathy. The author brilliantly uses the training of aggressive dogs as a vehicle for JJ to show his wisdom and sensibility, while Paul learns about confidence, patient, respect and friendship. The moment of truth in the book, when Paul has to stand up and protect JJ, is heartbreaking. Paul finally understands Chris' life choices. Being written in first person, we never get a chance to know how JJ, the gay character in the book really feels. Yes, there are a couple of glances, but only through Paul's perspective. I would have liked to have JJ's inner thoughts too. Maybe we will, I have the feeling he might get a book by the way this one ends.

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What makes a man?

    Before returning Viet Nam after a brief leave in November 1972, Chris Landon came out as gay to his 16 year old brother, Paul, and made him promise not to tell anyone else. While Paul loved his brother, he was also somewhat jealous of his father's constant boasting of him as the "perfect" son, which implied Paul was significantly less so. He was tempted to tell his father about Chris' revelation, though he kept the promise he had made.

    While Paul was still working through his feelings about Chris' sexuality, the word came that Chris was killed in action, while trying to rescue several other soldiers in his unit who were injured by enemy fire. The entire family was stunned, with Paul especially upset in that he blamed his father's constant "be a man" talks for Chris having enlisted in the first place, which resulted in his death. The emotional riff between father and son increased, as Paul was forced to work in the family pet supply store, and was not allowed to have the money or time to have much of a social life.

    Meanwhile, JJ, a college student who was hired at the store, seemed to replace Chris as Paul's father's ideal young man, as he showed an unique ability in training aggressive dogs belonging to customers. When Paul discovered JJ was gay, he began to further resent the newcomer.

    Ms. Reardon is the author of two previous novels about gay teen's coming-of-age, but outdid herself here with a realistic and relatable story that demonstrates multiple perspectives on homosexuality. I was especially impressed by her brilliantly simplistic analogy of dog "pack mentality" to explain why some straight men react to openly-gay individuals as if they were a threat to them. Much recommended reading, and a great gift for a family going through such revelations. Five stars out of five.

    - Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2011

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