Thursday, April 03, 2008

Saints of Augustine


This is the inauguration of what will be occasional notices and reviews of some of the new literature available at the library for gay teens. Notice may also be made of some of the more important fiction that has been published in this genre over the last twenty years.

The Saints of Augustine by Patrick Ryan is set in present day historic St. Augustine, Florida. Sam Findley and Charlie Ryan had been friends all of their lives until one day when Sam suddenly and without explanation broke off their friendship. A year goes by in which both of their lives get more troubled and complicated. Charlie has lost his mother, is dealing with a father unable to go to work or control his drinking as a consequence of his grief, is being harassed by a marijuana dealer to whom he owes a substantial amount of money. He has been dumped by his girlfriend who will not abide his recurrent drug use.

Things haven’t been much better for Sam. His father has recently left the family, his mother has hooked up with a homophobic live-in boyfriend that Sam detests, and Sam is attracted to a new boy in school, Justin, a developing relationship which he is trying desperately to hide from his mother.

This is one of the first novels for gay teens that take as its central theme the need for sustaining important friendships in the life of gay teens. Developing social networks and significant relationships with peers is important to all teens, and for a young gay teen losing those relationships, or feeling that they must be abandoned at a critical time in their life can be particularly devastating. Ryan’s story tries to offer hope that this doesn’t have to happen. Charlie and Sam manage to transcend their differences and reconstruct their life long friendship. They come to understand their mutual need for each other as friends. It’s not always the way things work out, but Sam takes a chance, and is surprised in this quietly wise and encouraging story for young people.

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