In this thoughtful yet searing coming-of-age novel, David Inside Out, Lee Bantle offers a raw, honest, and incredibly compelling account of a teenager who learns to accept himself for who he is.
David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he's a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has "inappropriate" urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.
Praise for David Inside Out:
“The writing is meaty and full of well-conceived characterizations, believable plot devices and plenty of wisdom for teens trying to understand themselves.” Kirkus Reviews
“Bantle describes the teen's emotional roller coaster in such an open and honest manner that readers will feel everything from his anguish to his elation. While this book will have wide appeal due to its universal themes of first love and the search for one's identity, it will be especially intriguing to readers who are struggling with their own sexuality. They will be able to understand and relate to David and his quest for self-discovery” School Library Journal
“Bantle's writing is crisp and spare, with no sentimentality or long-winded introspection; his second novel is a refreshing contribution to the 'coming out' genre and a powerful example of an honest teen voice.” The Horn Book Magazine
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Lee Bantle is the author of the middle-grade novel Diving for the Moon. He is an attorney and lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
David Inside Out
By Lee Bantle
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2009 Lee Bantle
All rights reserved.
Driving along Minnehaha Parkway on my way to see Kick, I felt like Archie going over to Veronica's. Not because she lived in a massive stone house and I mowed lawns for cash. Or because I was prone to Archie-type screwups. I felt that way because our relationship was two-dimensional.
And that was the test. Could I make it to the third dimension with her?
Rudolphs was packed like always on Saturdays. The buzz ricocheted off pink plaster walls as I squeezed through the rowdy crowd swigging beer in the entry. Eddie was sitting alone in back. "Kick's not here yet?" I asked, sliding my lanky frame into the fake-leather booth.
"In the bathroom — probably stocking up on cheap dispenser condoms," he said, straight-faced.
"Don't be so sure she's not. That girl is in heat." I gave him a look. "Your ears must have been burning," he said.
"You talking about me?"
"Mmhmm. Your sex life."
"What!" I crunched down on an ice cube. "Who brought that up?"
"Kick wants to know why you're so slow."
"She said that?"
"Yeah." Eddie turned the salt shaker on its side and spun it. "Why are you so slow? No, really, I want to know."
"Shhh! She's coming," I said.
"There you are, David," Kick said, sliding in next to me. "What took you so long to get here?"
"I got lost."
"That's pathetic." She patted my hand like I was five. "How many times have you been downtown Minneapolis?"
"Downtown!" Eddie replied. "You call this downtown? I can't wait for us to be in New York, Kick."
"New York?" I asked.
Eddie nodded. "We're applying to NYU."
"You are? Both of you?" I looked at Kick.
She nodded and handed me a menu. "I want to go to film school."
Oh, sure, I thought, but didn't say it. "I'm staying here," I said.
"Why? Cut loose a little bit," Eddie said.
The waiter came over. Which was good. Eddie gets on this rant that I'm uptight and who needs it? I ordered the house special: slow-cooked country ribs with corn on the cob, onion rings, and buttermilk rolls.
"Just a large salad for me," Kick said. "Dressing on the side."
I studied her lips as she recounted her adventure to the Mall of America the night before. They were plump, freshly remoistened with gloss. She smiled at me. I sat up straight, brushing the hair out of my eyes. Did she want me to make a move? How?
"My mother is really losing it with me," Kick told us. "I got home a half hour late. Twelve-thirty instead of midnight. Okay, maybe it was quarter to one." She sighed. "Now I have to be home every night by ten. Including weekends."
"For how long?" I asked.
"Until further notice."
"Poor baby," Eddie said.
"She's trying to ruin my life. It's envy."
Two platters of ribs arrived, sitting in lakes of barbecue sauce and topped with mounds of golden brown rings. Eddie had both paws covered in sauce in seconds, but I tried to hold back. The waiter set Kick's salad down, and she began poking at it, looking at our plates longingly. I speared her a perfect ring. After cutting off the breading, she ate it slowly, savoring each nibble. I don't know why she didn't eat more. So what if she was chubby.
As Eddie and I gorged, I let my knee brush against hers. She reached down and held it there. My heart sped up. Were we moving into a new dimension? Because you don't hold people's legs under the table if you're just friends.
"You look cute tonight," she said to me.
"Please," Eddie interrupted, reaching for another half ear of corn. "I'm eating."
Kick laughed and took her hand off my leg. Was I supposed to touch her knee now? I wiped my fingers on a wet-nap in preparation. Should I just drop my hand on her? Were you supposed to squeeze? As I reached for her leg, Kick's leather bag started squawking like a chicken. "What's that?" I asked, pulling my hand back.
She took out her cell phone and answered it. "My mother," she mouthed. It was after 10:00.
"The depressing thing," Kick said, standing up, "is that she thinks I'm out having sex." She threw up her arms. "I don't even have a boyfriend." Kick looked at Eddie and then me. "But maybe that will change." She dropped a ten on the table, stole an onion ring from my plate, and disappeared into the crowd.CHAPTER 2
As I drove Eddie home from Rudolphs, he made me turn on the interior light to show the letter he got from Stephanie Bond, the author of Too Hot to Sleep. I made fun of him when he first wrote to Barbara Taylor Bradford. Until he got a reply. Now we both write letters. To the great romance novelists. But you can't send a fan letter unless you truly love the book. That point is sacrosanct with us.
"So what did Ms. Bond have to say?" I asked, backing out of the parking lot. The spotlit cathedral dome shone in the rear window, with the sparkling lights of downtown just beyond.
"Dear Eddie," he read. "Ohhh, she's already calling me 'dear.' I think I'm in love."
"No, I can't. I can't share another word." He pulled the letter to his chest and held it there. "It's private between Steph and me."
"Steph?" I said, turning onto Franklin and driving under the freeway overpass. "Eddie, you need help. I'm thinking a residential program."
"You're just jealous," he taunted, poking me with the envelope as we cruised through the "dangerous" part of South Minneapolis.
When he moved into my neighborhood Eddie was ten. I watched him build a fort on the overgrown lot down by Raftegler's Ravine. Cutting away saplings and flattening the tall grass into a comfy bed, Eddie made a secret hideaway. We sat in there that summer reading comics, eating roasted cashews, and spying on people going by on the sidewalk. Sometimes I made loud farting noises with my armpit, until Eddie told me I was embarrassing him.
Now we're both at Whitman. Each year they give scholarships to a few "local" students who live within walking distance of the academy. Which is the only way either of us could go, since the tuition is mucho dinero.
I turned onto Nicollet Avenue and drove past the restaurants and wine bars, with fashionably dressed smokers out front. Then the street grew residential, and I reached Eddie's block. As I turned the corner, the headlights caught two boys TP–ing the neighbor's house. The imps stood frozen in the high beams, then fled, dropping their rolls as they ran.
"Amateurs," Eddie said, climbing out of the car. The headlights illuminated his small, wiry frame and jet-black hair as he picked up a roll and gave it an underhand toss. Looping high over the branches of his neighbor's maple tree, the roll then plopped to the ground. Outside lights on the house flashed on. Racing for his backyard, Eddie disappeared into the dark. I hit the gas, feeling the old thrill of almost getting caught.
On the way home, I detoured to Lake of the Isles. I got out of the car and walked down to the water, past the "City of Lakes" sign. Shining out the windows of the comfortable brick houses snaking along the shoreline was the yellow hue of good lighting. My warm breath escaped into the chill late-September air as I tried to imagine kissing Kick. Slowly, like they do in romance novels. I closed my eyes to conjure her image: braces-perfect smile, round cheeks, curly dark hair. Why couldn't I feel her lips?
A cold gust of wind licked the back of my neck. Shivering, I ran to the car.
* * *
Mom was still up when I got home. She followed me into my small upstairs room, wearing the pink terry-cloth robe I got her for Christmas. I pulled off my earphones.
"So, how are Kick and Eddie? Did you have a good time?"
"Mmhmm. We went to Rudolphs."
"Did you have enough money?"
"Yeah." I hate when Mom worries about that. She gives me more than she should. You don't make much money teaching English at the University of Minnesota. I set my iPod down on the dresser and she picked it up. "Who do you listen to on this?"
"Right now? The Supremes."
"What's funny about it?"
"We danced to them in college."
"The thought of you ..."
She laughed and tried to pull me into a dance. I jerked my arms away, leaving Mom to do a boogie of her own creation.
"See? I was pretty good."
"On American Bandstand, circa 1950."
"I'm not that old." She looked out the window. "You know who was a good dancer — your father."
"Really?" I loved hearing new things about him.
"We had dance parties at the house before you were born."
"And he was good?" That didn't fit my image of Dad.
"Well, I thought so." Mom missed him. I knew that because there were pictures of him all over her room. I was only five when he died, so I hardly remember. But she never got over him.
I stood up to dance with her. She took my arm and twirled underneath it. And then she brushed my head. "You need a haircut."
Suddenly I was twelve years old. "No, I don't."
"This weekend," she said firmly, heading off to bed.
My mom can be confusing without even trying. If I tell her I have to do something because everyone is doing it, she says just be yourself. She says people respect that. But what if you send fan mail to romance writers? And get teary-eyed at chick flicks? What if you still get spooked during thunderstorms? These are not things you want to share with others. Being yourself might make people reject you. People you desperately care about. Being yourself only works if you're basically cool. Which I'm not.
There's another problem with Mom's advice. How can you be yourself if you don't know who that is?CHAPTER 3
We did sprints for the whole workout Monday. Coach was sadistic with his whistle. We were all dragging as we headed back to school.
I dropped onto the bench in front of my locker, breathing in the sharp smell of fresh sweat. Maybe I was too exhausted to have to worry about anything today. I could hear the clicking of combination locks. Sean and Parker, the other two juniors on cross-country, undressed on either side of me. Like gods. Sean Icelandic and Parker Grecian. I kept my eyes closed, head bent to the floor.
"Who's got shampoo?" Sean called out.
"Here," Parker said. A bottle whizzed by my head.
"This shit's for dandruff," Sean said. The bottle whipped back past me. "C'mon, Dahlgren, don't you have any?"
I opened my eyes and watched Sean tug off his running pants. My gaze strayed down before I forced it back to his face. "Hold on," I said hoarsely, as I found shampoo and handed it to him.
He took the bottle and headed off. No way I was following. Not after what happened on the canoe trip. Starting to dress, I heard Coach McIntyre boom at me: "Get in there, Dahlgren! You smell." Delaying as long as I could, I raced into the cream-and-black-tiled shower room, after everyone was out. Safe inside, I let the hot stream of water massage my tired body.
Toweling off, I heard Parker shout out "Tonelli's!" I rushed to get dry, but they were gone by the time I finished. The shampoo I had given Sean was sitting in a soapy puddle on the long bench in front of my locker.
* * *
I was standing in our small grassy front yard, thinking it needed one more mow, when my cell rang. I flipped it open.
"Guess what," Kick said. "My parents are gone next weekend."
"They made me swear I wouldn't have anyone over." She lowered her voice so that it was almost a whisper. "So I'm keeping it small. Mona, Eddie, you, and me. And maybe Kristy and Alicia. Can you come?"
"Don't say a word," Kick told me before hanging up. "I'll be in lockdown till Christmas if they find out."
I stared at my reflection in the window, pushing my sandy-brown hair behind each ear. Was this the night Kick and I would finally kiss?
* * *
I got to the locker room first on Friday and changed for our meet against Franklin. We were the better team on paper, but their runners could surprise you. The rest of the team filtered in, chattering with nervous energy.
I stood quietly at the end of my locker row, waiting for everyone to get ready instead of going to the field to loosen up. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Sean and Parker change. I spun away from them, rushed through the door and into the school yard. God! Now I was loitering in locker rooms.
My right foot twitched like it always did as we lined up at the start of the race on the Hiawatha Golf Course. BANG! I leapt into motion. Runners from Whitman and Franklin, spaced across the whole fairway, bounded onto the lawn. My feet drove down into the thick sod harder and faster. I started to pull ahead of the pack. I couldn't believe it. Sean and Parker ran behind. Everyone was behind.
"TURTLE!" Parker shouted. Team code for "Slow and steady wins the race."
But I was not going to slow up now. I ground down on my molars and pushed harder. At 2,500 meters the course turned back on itself. As I rounded the turn, Coach shouted my time. My best ever. "Ease up!" he called.
It didn't matter what anyone said. I couldn't stop now. I would show them. Doubling back, I saw the oncoming mass of sinewy legs pumping down onto the soft earth. They would never catch me. It felt like I could run forever. Until the last 500 meters. When my legs went mushy. John, our captain, raced by me with two runners from Franklin, followed by Parker and Sean. Push! Push! Others whizzed by. I was a 100 meters out, dying. Runners flew by. Even sophomores I always beat. I crossed the finish in eleventh, gasping. We got kicked by our big rival.
The locker room was dead. None of the usual cutting up. I stalled again, sitting in front of my locker, eyes closed. "Hey, Dahlgren," Parker said. "Wake up." I looked at him pulling off his sweat-stained red jersey. "What was your problem today?"
"I don't know."
"Didn't you hear me yell 'turtle'?"
I shrugged. What could I say? Parker slammed the door of his locker and headed for the shower.
"I'd hate to be you right now," Sean said. "I really would." He patted my shoulder as he stepped by.
Leaving school, I walked past John, the captain, hanging my head.
"Don't worry," he said, putting his arm around my shoulder. "You'll do okay next time, man."
"Thanks," I said. "I hope so."
At home that night, I kicked the elm tree on our boulevard so hard the bark chipped off. I knew better than to go out too fast. What was I trying to prove?
Mom saw me out there. I came in the back door and hung my jacket. "What's wrong?" she asked.
"Yes, there is."
I slumped into a chair at the kitchen table. "I lost the meet for us tonight."
"Yeah, I was eleventh. Worst time in a month."
"What happened?" she asked, scraping some chopped garlic into a soup pot.
"How much off were you?"
"Half a minute."
"Well, that happens. Eleventh isn't so bad." She drizzled the garlic with olive oil and turned on the heat.
"That's not what the team thinks."
"Parker yelled at me."
"He shouldn't do that."
"Why? I deserve it."
"Hasn't Parker ever had an off day?"
"Well, he will. And I hope you'll be loyal to him."
Mom poured three cans of tomato sauce into the pot.
"What are you cooking?" I asked. The cooking garlic made the kitchen smell sweet.
"Spaghetti sauce. Should I throw in some browned sausage?"
"Yes. I'm starving." At least there was food. And Mom. To make me feel better when things went south.CHAPTER 4
I stalled as long as I could, inspecting disposable razors, shaving cream, cologne. "You buy them," I whispered to Kick. Condoms.
She slipped her arm through mine and tugged me to the counter. The beehive-hairdo lady was there. The kabuki makeup on her face traveled down her neck to the cleavage you really didn't want to think about, let alone see.
"Whaddya need, kiddo?" she asked. Cheerfully intense.
"Uh ... a box of condoms," I mumbled.
"What kind ya want?" She waved at the glass shelves behind her.
"Trojans," I said.
"Ribbed, Ultra Thin, lubricated or non?" she asked. It was like ordering a burger. With fries.
Lord, I wanted to get out of there. "Ribbed, non —"
"Get me some Ultra Thins," Kick whispered, pulling a ten out of her jeans and stuffing it in my hand. Great, make it sneaky and even more incriminating.
I gave her a sideways glance. "And a box of Ultra Thins," I told the lady. My voice, all on its own, decided to jump an octave on the word "thins."
Excerpted from David Inside Out by Lee Bantle. Copyright © 2009 Lee Bantle. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
i read this book literaly in one hour i just couldn't put it down. a great read i would recomend it to any one
The second I finished reading this book, I jumped on-line so I could express my excitement over this incredibly important piece of young adult literature. Lee Bantle has masterfully captured the ubiquitous angst of adolescence, only this time much of the heartbreak centers on self discovery related to a teenager's sexuality. Although the story will be especially relevant to kids who are experiencing emotions similar to David's, the question it poses is universal-- How do we come to accept ourselves so we can live an authentic life? -- that's why I recommend the book for all teens experiencing the struggles of growing up. And don't get the idea that this book is a downer or too heavy duty. Bantle manages to write a heartfelt piece that offers up as much laughter as it does tears. A sincere, lovely book in all respects. (And I love how he writes about food.)
My uncle wrote this book. He gave me the manuscript of it before it came out. I definitly reccomend it! Even though it is a young adult book it is more for the older part of young adults. 13 is the youngest someone should be to read this book and that's still a little young. Buy the book and read it. If you have a face book you can become a fan of Lee Bantle, the author. This is a great story because it acheives so many things from enjoyable, to heartwarming, to self discovery. It includes many aspects of life. Happy Reading :)
Such a great novel! This book tells the story of a young man (David), who struggles to find himself amidst the social pressures of high school. In a place where masculinity and heterosexuality are the strict norms, anybody who is a little different is seen as an outcast. This makes it extremely difficult for David when he discovers that he is gay. Trying to repress his feelings for men, David develops internal anger and insecurities. What's more, his crush for his track teammate (Sean), creates sexual tension between the two characters, as well as heartbreak and sadness. Throughout the book, David finds himself "running" from his identity, only to realize that it's much easier to stop and simply let go. This book teaches readers a lot about the struggle that comes with self-discovery. The story is very relatable for teen readers and conveys the important messages of expression and freedom. I would definitely recommend this book for all readers interested in coming of age stories.
When I first picked up this book I did so because it reminded me of a friend. I thought it'd be a fun read. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book wasn't just something good to read on a Sunday afternoon, it was truly inspiring and honestly so helpful to someone questions themselves. The first time I read it through, I really enjoyed it, but I think to truly appreciate it, I had to read it again. It's a great story, which I could identify with on so many levels. Even if you're not gay, or bi, it's still a great love story with a healthy amount of triumph and drama included. A definite must read.
Well, I'm probably going to sound immensely whiny, but... the way the story plays out is beyond irritating! Sure characters make mistakes, all good novels have that element, but I felt like reaching inside the text, and slapping David upside the head. I mean, he trusted Sean, a total jerk, WAY too much, and basically let himself become his tool for getting off. That's fair. And then he treats his gay best friend like he is an alien, or something, for pretty much the whole novel. Look, the book is good, but the fact I read it two days again and I can't even remember the friend's name tells me that it isn't a piece of art. I wouldn't actively discourage reading it, but- actually, I might. Or at least purchasing it. At under 200 pages, it's pretty thin, and probably not worth the time or money. Whatever. It's not terrible. I liked it. I forgot about it. The ending was good, though, I can remember that much. If you've bought it already, read it, but I would say that unless you are dead-set to purchase it, reconsider.
My Rating: 4.5 David Inside Out was a novel about self-discovery which offered an evoking plot and endearing characters. I've never had the chance to read a GLBT book until now. I must say, Lee is an extraordinary author who has the ability to grab readers from start to finish. The quality behind the story was sincere and powerfully impressive. David's personality was amazing; he had a good head on his shoulders and a caring heart. However, the struggle within himself was confused and lost. His mind told him to like girls while his body yearned for his track mate, Sean. In addition, David started pushing away his recent, openly gay best friend in fear of coming to terms with his true feelings. Sean was perceived as a "straight" guy that quickly started befriending David. At first, I didn't quite understand what he was trying to prove with David. Was he straight or gay? All I found out was Sean was selfish, vile and ignorant. Just thinking about him makes me shudder with anger. I felt sorry for David's vulnerable state of mind. However, I didn't think he was playing it smart by acting like a sucker. Another character I found interesting was David's closest girl friend, Kick. I respect her determination to make him her boyfriend even though he obviously showed opposite signs. All through David Inside Out, Lee presented real issues that not only gay teens could relate to but, also individuals who have experienced discrimination in their lives. The gladsome ending wrapped up well and I finally got to see David's true nature. I liked Lee's writing style and look forward to picking up more works by him. I also need to warn my young readers that this book contains sexual content, so proceed with caution.
DAVID INSIDE OUT was a book that I'd been looking forward to reading for awhile and I'm grateful I was given the chance to review it. It's a very fast read: I got so caught up in the story, I was able to finish it in only one day. David's best friend, Eddie, comes out as gay and shows that he doesn't care - it's just the way he is. David, on the other hand, pushes him away so people won't call him "gay by association" if you will, and pretends that he doesn't have the same feelings. He even acts as if he likes his other best friend, Kick, who has a crush on him...but eventually the truth will need to come out and he's simply prolonging the inevitable. No matter what though, I was happy to see that Kick and Eddie's reactions to David were realistic and genuine. That's how I would describe the whole book, actually. Sean and David's "relationship" seemed real, as Sean refused to admit his sexuality, while David begins to see that it might be the right thing to do. I loved these characters and I honestly felt for all of them, no matter how they were managing their lives. Whether you are gay or not, it's hard to "come out" and be true to yourself. Life tries to tell you how to be and this book definitely focuses on how these lives are changed while they come to terms with who they are and who they love. Definitely recommended. I have a feeling this will be one of those underdog books, so I really hope people will pick up a copy and spread the word.
i think the book was good, this book is very important to my bestfriend and i, my friend is gay and im the bestfriend, everyday we would go to barnes and nobles and he would read it while i would be reading something else. after everytime we would hide it cause it was the last copy. i didnt read the book but my friend would stop and and tell me everything that was going on. my idea is that david and sean were both very confused i really wasnt to into the characters but i enjoyed spending the time with my bestfriend and seeing him enjoy every minute of it.
Between track, school, college applications, and relationships David learns more about himself and others in many life-changing experiences. For David, life isn't without challenges, with his father dying when he was five, high school classes, and now: coming to terms with his feelings towards men. While going through this self-discovery, he is fortunate to have great support of his mother, who always seems to be there to lift him up just enough. His journey regarding his homosexuality started when his friend Eddie, an openly gay more effeminate character, who shares his love of romance novels, came out of the closet. At the moment, David wasn't too keen on the idea of being gay and didn't want to be involved with anything having to do with being gay including being around his best friend. However, he was still attracted to an eye-catching track teammate, Sean. To avoid homosexual thinking, David wore a rubber band around his wrist and snapped it to try to stop those thoughts. The attractive runner, Sean, and David's relationship continued to evolve and became racy and romantic. Through their relationship they learn more about themselves in regards to their homosexuality, but also more about how they should treat people and their general identities. Sean turns out to be not the most perfect guy in the world, but also seems to be going through similar issues that David is facing. Throughout the story, David faces homophobia through negative comments from Parker, who consistently makes homophobic remarks and even defaces a Gay-Straight Alliance sign. At first David is hesitant to take a stand against such homophobia by not being a part of the Gay- Straight Alliance his friend Eddie is trying to start. However, he becomes more confident about who he is and less afraid of being gay, and being seen with other people that are gay. In the end, David becomes more comfortable with his sexuality. His relationships with Sean, Eddie, and Kick all change as he discovers more about himself. The novel's ending has many twists, which certainly makes the book much more interesting and less predictable. David's struggle with identity and coming out is quite authentic, relatable, and tangible. The experiences draw the reader into the storyline whether positive, questioning, or negative. I liked the utilization of the hotline as a resource for LGBTQQ teens. DAVID INSIDE OUT is quite funny, due to David's thoughts and comments made by other characters, such as Eddie. Bantle skillfully develops David's relationships with other characters, particularly his mother and Sean. One question on identity I found insightful was: "How can you be yourself if you don't know who that is? (9)". People constantly say "be yourself" and I thought this was a great way of addressing that idea and the struggle regarding identity formation facing teens. One area I would have liked to see more development would be Eddie's background and his coming out struggles. This may be an interesting idea for a possible sequel. The book, overall, was a positive, enjoyable, easy read and a nice addition to LGBTQ coming of age young adult literature, and leaves the reader with the message that it is okay to be gay and is a part of who one is as an individual and your friends may continue to be your friends regardless of sexuality.