The Boys and the Bees

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A gay 12 year old boy begins his first year of junior high with the vow that this will be the year that he kisses a boy. Like The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers—only lighter, brighter and more youthful—The Boys and the Bees is set in Minneapolis and involves a confused but sweet adolescent kid coming to grips with growing up gay and feeling completely lost about it.
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A gay 12 year old boy begins his first year of junior high with the vow that this will be the year that he kisses a boy. Like The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers—only lighter, brighter and more youthful—The Boys and the Bees is set in Minneapolis and involves a confused but sweet adolescent kid coming to grips with growing up gay and feeling completely lost about it.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This wry account of adolescent same-sex stirrings avoids the flamboyant drag queens, messy crystal meth addiction and suicidal moments of its predecessor, The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers (though it does share that story's optimistic ending), focusing instead on teen angst that's more hormonal than melodramatic. Eleven-year-old Andy, the novel's precocious narrator, enters sixth grade at his buttoned-down Catholic school in St. Paul, Minn., aching with bottled-up desire-specifically for star athlete Mark-even though the captain of the basketball team is apparently courting the prettiest girl in the school. At the same time, because he's still closeted, Andy is increasingly flustered by his friendship with school "faggot" James and tries to distance himself from his obvious but persistent best friend. Meanwhile, the sports stud whose handsome blondness Andy covets is struggling secretly with his own conflicted sexuality. Though this isn't being marketed as a YA title, Babcock's empathic rendering of his young characters' voices makes it more than suitable for readers the age of the three boys who form the novel's romantic tangle. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Andy is an outsider, one of those kids always being picked on by others. At 12, he is so low on the school social ladder that just about the only person lower is his effeminate, lisping best friend, James. But because James's mannerisms draw attention from all the school bullies, Andy finds himself joining in with the others to pick on his friend out of a sense of self-preservation-and ends up hating himself for it. The only person who seems kind and above all the bullying is Mark, the school's leader and star athlete with a secret of his own. Lambda Award winner Babcock (The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers) does a good job of portraying the sexual confusion of these adolescents, but he excels at conveying the pain of being different at a time of life when being the same is all that seems to matter. His latest novel, which includes some sexual references, is recommended for large public library YA and gay fiction collections.-Caroline Mann, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An appealing, if slight, novel of coming out of the closet in the '80s, from Babcock (The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers, 2005). What distinguishes this work and infuses it with charm is the age of our hero, Andy. Coming-of-age tales typically involve a teen filled with all the usual demons and angst, self-loathing and cynicism. But Andy is just turning 12, and is too much of an innocent for any kind of existential reflection. This is the novel's saving grace: Andy's genuine goofiness and naivete ring so true it's impossible to dislike him. Andy is sure that sixth grade will be the best year of his life. And why not? He has everybody's favorite teacher, Sister Mary Kelly, and he's in love with Mark Saddle, athletic, beautiful and part of the in-crowd. Andy shamelessly tries to move up the popularity ladder to get closer to Mark, but it's a long climb from the bottom rung, where he lingers with his old best friend, James. Effeminate, lisping James, whom everyone at school calls a "faggot," can't understand why Andy is now joining in on the name-calling, especially since the two spend their sleepovers playing sex games. Andy feels sorry for James, but his sense of self-preservation is greater than his adolescent loyalty. James sits alone at lunch, is beat up by Andy's new "friends" and continues with his passion-drawing epic portraits of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Wishes come true as Andy is suspiciously befriended by Mark, who invites the hopelessly inept boy to practice basketball one-on-one at his house. Meanwhile, Andy the budding writer is working on his third novel, featuring Beverly, who, oddly enough, is in love with a boy named Mark. Andy's novel-in-progress, his prayers toJesus to keep him from being a gay weirdo and his complex friendship with James, hit just the right note. Andy is neither the wise child nor a noble symbol for discrimination; he's just a likable kid coming to terms with his homosexuality. Lightweight fare-just right for the YA market-but an amiable addition to coming-out fiction.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786716470
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/10/2005
  • Pages: 137
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Babcock is the author of The Tragedy of Miss Geneva Flowers. The author lives in Minneapolis, MN.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mechele R. Dillard for

    Andy knows he is gay, but he cannot admit it, lest he condemn himself to life as a "faggot," making life at his Catholic school unbearable. "Please, God," he begs, "don't make me be a faggot. Fix me" (p. 20). <BR/><BR/>Babcock follows the trials and tribulations of three young gay boys--Andy, James, and Mark--as seen through the eyes of Andy. The confusion that the boys feel, the pressure to conform, and the fear of being labeled a "faggot" for life, all of these extremely valid points of understanding are tackled by Babcock. And, as an added plus, the prejudice against homosexuals is confronted. When Andy is sent to the principal's office for calling James a "faggot," Mr. Preston informs him that "it's not a very nice word for homosexuals, and I refuse to tolerate it being used in this school. It's the same as using a racist slur" (p. 70). Later, when the kids are gathered for sex education and are allowed to pose questions anonymously, someone asks, "Is it a sin to be gay?" (p. 97). Mr. Preston is once again the voice of authority in the matter, answering, "It's not a sin to be gay. People are most likely born that way. They shouldn't be punished for it, even if we happen to disagree with their lifestyle" (p. 97). So, tolerance for diversity is preached. But Mr. Preston also illustrates the absurdity of many people's reasoning when he continues: "However, it is a sin to have sex with another man, because sex is a holy union permitted only within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman" (p. 97). Babcock confronts each of these important issues skillfully. <BR/><BR/>The problem I encountered while reading this book was not in the content, but with the ages of the kids involved. When the story begins, Andy is an eleven-year-old--old enough, yes, to be curious and questioning, but the reader cannot help but ask: Is eleven old enough for sex? One minute, Babcock writes about the boys giving each other's genitals a "tongue twisty" (p. 39) and the next minute the kids are attending their first boy-girl party. Yes, of course, the author intends to illustrate the irony of the parents' naivete when James's mom and dad declare him too young for such parties, but the fact of the matter is, eleven years old is just too young for, "All I could see was Mark's white briefs as he straddled James" (p. 134) and "A good frame, raw talent--Mark was really turning me on" (p. 74). <BR/><BR/>If the characters in this book were just a bit older--at least thirteen--I could have sank into the story and not questioned it a bit; everything would have came together seamlessly. But these characters are just beginning middle school, and are having all-out sexual experiences before they even receive their first kiss. The extreme youth of the characters, ultimately, detracts from Babcock's otherwise interesting and powerful message. <BR/><BR/>Overall, Babcock makes an important statement with THE BOYS AND THE BEES, as far as ideas regarding homosexuality and the treatment of homosexuals within today's society are concerned and, for this reason, I have given the book four stars. However, I strongly suggest that this is a book for older readers; ironically, the sexual content of THE BOYS AND THE BEES is entirely too strong for kids Andy's age.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2007

    Must read!!!

    Who couldn't love this story? I know that it is a story about young children who experience their sexuality for the first time, a gay sexuality, which might not hit home for everyone like it did me, but it is an outstanding novella. I read it twice in two days, and I I can write honestly that I haven't smiled that much in a long time. In single words this book is: honest, cute, funny, and sweet. I loved it, junior high kids should be required to read it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2009

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