Saturday, November 04, 2006

Books: My Cousin is Gay

Some of you are curious about My Cousin is Gay, one of the teen-novels I read recently. So here's the scoop:

Our heroine is a high school girl named Eva. Her hunky cousin, Viggo, has lived with her family since his mom died in a car accident.

Eva is cute and a little dim. She's constantly engaged in a not-so-witty battle of wits with her enemy, Meri, who has hated her ever since they fought over a swing in elementary school.

Eva finds her cousin's diary and can't resist peeking. In it he reveals that he's gay. Obviously this is sensitive information which, if it got out, would have an enormous impact on his life. So what does Eva do? She doodles a picture of her cousin hugging another man and writes his name and the word "gay" on it. Then she leaves it at school where, of course, Meri finds it.

Meri comes up with this great idea to blackmail Eva into setting her up with Viggo. All Viggo needs is a woman to "turn him straight," and Meri's sure she can do it. Many hijinks ensue, including a date to Pizza Hut. It all comes down to a final confrontation before the high school dance, where we discover that (spoiler alert here) ... Viggo is not gay.


Nope, he's not gay. He's gotten a role as a gay kid in a movie, and he's keeping a fake diary to try and understand what his character is going through.

Yeah, I know. It's the worst surprise ending since Who Shot JR turned out to be a dream. It robs the characters of any chance for real development.

True, Eva does some research and gives a little speech to her best friend about how Gay People Deserve Respect and Acceptance. But I winced when she blurted out to Viggo, in the final pages, "I'm so glad you're not gay!"

I wonder why the author made that choice. Was she afraid the book would get too heavy if he really was gay? Was she worried about a backlash? Most of the cultural oppression going on here at the moment is aimed at women, but gays have come in for their share too. Nobody likes to wake up and find a bunch of fundamentalist yahoos staging a demo around their mailbox.

Still, I hope if a gay kid somewhere in Indonesia is looking for support and inspiration, s/he finds a book that offers a little more.

Second photo: the flyleaf from My Cousin is Gay


jasylv said...

You mean J.R. isn't dead?

jake said...

wow i hope so with you. just saw a discussion on cspan last night with former new jersey gov. mcgreevy and andrew sullivan. they spoke on the gayness inherent in everyone, which made me chuckle and wish i was watching it with my massive phobe of a brother. but mcgreevy has a new book out or something...what i mean to say is that he often wished for a book like this, so the self-hate could continue.

i find it very interesting that the author still wants to discuss gayness, and phobia, but so galdern obliquely...

walsh said...

"Nobody likes to wake up and find a bunch of fundamentalist yahoos staging a demo around their mailbox."

are you talking about jakarta or anytown USA?