Jones's debut novel has a provocative premise: Belle is stunned when her longtime boyfriend Dylan-the Eastbrook High School "Harvest King" to her "Harvest Queen"-reveals that he is gay. She questions her ability to know who anyone truly is ("How long did he know? How many times did he kiss me and wish I were a boy?.... How could I not notice?"), but also worries about how Dylan will be treated in their small Maine town. Belle is surprised to find out that, days after their breakup, Dylan already has a boyfriend; she cautiously begins her own romance with Tom, who has long carried a torch for her. Jones offers a convincing small-town environment ("There are no secrets in Eastbrook," Belle jokes with "a hideous movie ghoul laugh") and the author's poetic prose ably captures her heroine's emotional upheavals ("Each want stomps itself into my heart.... I want a life where there are four stable walls and the people I love are who I expect them to be"). An array of major plotlines-Belle's heartbreak, her and Dylan's new relationships, a thug that threatens both Dylan and Belle and the former couple's attempt to salvage their friendship, among others-can make it difficult to know where to focus. Additionally, some character quirks, such as a German teacher's proclivity for dressing in costume, seem a bit scripted. Still, even those who can't identify with Belle's exact situation should readily empathize with her and gladly accompany her as she gradually rallies and finds new love. Ages 12-up. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
A small town in Maine (6000 people) where everyone knows everyone is the setting for this love story. Belle and Dylan are lovers, yeslovers. This is the story of one week in their lives, a week that starts with Dylan telling Belle he is gay. She is astounded and hurt. Dylan seems to be having a thing going on with Bob. And as soon as word gets out about their break-up, Tom starts paying a lot of attention to Belle. She finds him hard to resist, yet she is bewildered that her feelings can change from Dylan to Tom so quickly. The high school is tolerant of Dylan and Bob being gay, but there are exceptions, and the police chief warns Belle and Tom to try to protect Dylan. There are some hotheads; fights break out and emotions run high, and Belle is even attacked by one of the homophobic boys. At the end of the week, Belle and Dylan have cemented their friendship/love and Belle and Tom have realized they are meant for one another. The main characters are talented and intelligent. A lot happens in just a week, and we too wonder how Belle can go from being in love with Dylan to being in love with Tom in a few days. But it is important to remember everyone has known everyone else since elementary school; they have grown up together and feelings have been tamped down and denied. The theme is being true to yourself, a worthy premise. Belle and Dylan are both fine musicians, but Belle had smothered her own talents while they were together. Dylan was smothering his sexual orientation, of course. At the end of the week, Dylan is being honest about himself and Belle is literally finding her own voice. Carrie Jones is a graduate of Vermont College's MFA program and this is her first novel forYAs; it's good to have her talent in the field.
This book chronicles high school senior Belle's experiences and thoughts over the course of one week, after her longtime boyfriend Dylan breaks up with her and tells her that he is gay. Alternating between daily encounters with her classmates, flashbacks of her time together with Dylan, and Belle's list of tips on how to cope with the situation, each chapter is a step in Belle's progression-and that of her small Maine hometown-from shock to acceptance of Dylan's announcement, culminating with the school dance on Friday night, which she and Dylan both attend with new boyfriends. The story focuses on Belle and on the support that she receives from her friends and from community members as she works through her heartbreak and surprise, giving it a unique perspective among books focusing on gay issues. The harassment that Belle and Dylan both receive from their classmates creates tension that builds throughout the story, keeping readers captivated and leading to an unpredictable outcome. Jones's portrayal of high school life is engaging, and readers will enjoy her descriptions of lunchroom dynamics, class outings, and dating. This book could be used effectively as an educational tool, but it will interest leisure readers, too.
Jones takes what could be a shallow premise and creates a multilayered story that will draw in readers. This book strikes a good balance between relevant social issues and flirty, teenage fun. Teens will be able to relate to the cast of contemporary, realistic characters and the range of emotions that they experience. Jones's smart and emotional writing style enhances this slightly addicting, fast-paced read.
Gr 9 & Up - Senior Belle Philbrick is known as one half of her rural Maine high school's most established couples; everyone in town just assumes that she and Dylan will get married after college. When he confesses to her that he is gay, Belle doesn't know how to react. She wants to be there for him, the boy who had been her best friend for longer than they had been lovers, but his coming out is devastating for her. She knows that being an openly gay student in her small school is not going to be easy for Dylan; however, she didn't realize how difficult it would be to be known as his former girlfriend. Soon, Belle, too, is the target of stares and taunts and, as she tries to get through that first week after their breakup, she finds support from an unexpected ally who seems to offer a new chance at romance. The provincial Maine setting is richly described as a natural haven with the potential to both encourage and impede growth, and Belle's challenge to find nourishment there is well realized. The novel suffers a bit for its length; however, it introduces fully three-dimensional characters facing and reacting to Dylan's difficult decision to, by Belle's observation, "be gay in a world where gay is dangerous . . . where gay means you can die because you've loved." Jones offers an atypical perspective of the coming-out story by legitimizing the love that is not lost, but changed, when young people grow up and apart.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, BostonCopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This touching tale about a teenage girl whose boyfriend turns out to be gay is marred by prose that is seemingly unedited. Belle and Dylan have been dating for two devoted years of high school and have known each other forever. In fact, everyone in this tiny Maine town has known each other forever and knows everything about everyone. When Dylan reveals that he's gay, Belle's world crumples. They made love in her bed after school; they sang songs to her guitar. Who is she now, without him? Who is anyone? What other lies has she believed? Belle's healing is facilitated when Tom-another long-time schoolmate-reveals his strong feelings for her. Tom is a brown-eyed prince, and Belle finds a deliciously forceful lust moving her along. Jones blessedly avoids the usual cliche of the gay boy getting bashed, though some violence emerges in another direction. Clumsy comma splices and absences, along with awkward repetition, distract from an emotional story that's otherwise true at heart. (Fiction. YA)
“Provocative … The author’s poetic prose ably captures her heroine’s emotional upheavals.” Publisher’s Weekly
“Jones offers an atypical perspective of the coming-out story by legitimizing the love that is not lost, but changed, when young people grow up and apart.” School Library Journal