The descriptive bit: Julian is trying to survive long enough to get out of the small Canadian town he lives in. His escape is College or University in another town far away… in which he can be himself. Jules is bisexual, he’s pretty sure of it. He’s had girlfriends, he’s found himself kissing boys at parties when he was drunk, but he just can’t face telling his Mom or his best friends. Maybe, he can’t face saying it out loud at all.
Julian is persuaded to try out for the school production of Hamlet and he gets to know the new kid, Sky. Sky is artistic, sweet, thoughtful and … seems to be drawn to Julian. The more time that Jules spends with Sky, the more he realizes that he needs to start being himself if he’s going to survive.
I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville comes out April 15th and is will be available here at NineStar Press.
My thoughts bit: This book is a lovely, contemporary, YA novel. It’s a coming-out story and a love story. I really enjoyed I Knew Him. The relationship between Jules and Sky is sweet, caring and patient – Jules is very lucky to find himself with such supportive friends. Sometimes, I like reading that! I like that some people can come out and it doesn’t cause much of a road bump with their friendships.
I also greatly appreciated the way in which Biphobia was addressed in the story. It’s a very real thing and I think that a lot of folks don’t realize that. I have heard people say, “He just doesn’t want to admit he’s gay.” Comments like that completely invalidate what someone is trying to say about themselves and it’s horrendous to hear. I applaud de Niverville for including this in Julian’s story. It’s important.
I really enjoyed the production of Hamlet in the book! I remember those amazing drama-days in school and I remember them fondly. I’ve even read theories that Horatio maybe have been a gay character. It’s certainly an interesting play to explore differences in people’s sexual orientation. I liked the way that Jules – the sports playing jock – became comfortable with his role as an actor at the same time as he was becoming comfortable with being the real person he was everywhere else.
The dynamics in Jules’ family were interesting. His father left the family because he was gay and that is on Jule’s mind from very early on in the novel. His experience with admitting who you are is limited to what happened with his father, and that tore his family apart. He loves his mother, that’s very clear from early on in the novel, and she loves him. But, Jules isn’t certain she will be able to accept him if he tells her he is bisexual given her reaction to his father’s reveal. It’s a bit more complicated than the usual coming out story and I liked that.
The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: violence, physical assault, gay man married to a woman, Biphobia and resulting physical assault.
I received an ARC of I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville from NineStar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review