Monday, 30 March 2015

I Read... When Everything Feels Like the Movies

With all the buzz around Raziel Reid's When Everything Feels Like the Movies, I had to read it.  It won the Governor General's Literary Award for best Children's fiction, which led to a lot of anger from some people.  These people said that it was not suitable for children and that they would not want a parent who was unfamiliar with the book to see the award and pick up Everything for their young child.  It was also the runner up in CBC's Canada Reads 2015, with Lainey Lui passionately defending Reid's novel as important for allowing LGBT youth to see themselves in literature.

I found the novel a quick read.  I was prepared to be uncomfortable as I was warned of the frank descriptions of teen sex, drug use, and violence.  Perhaps because these elements had been built up, I didn't think that they were that bad or shocking.  There is certainly frank conversation around these subjects, and I found the the main character Jude's best friend Angela particularly problematic, but I didn't find anything shocking.  That said, I wouldn't hand this novel over to a teenager without making sure that their parents were okay with the subject matter.

I had read an interview where Raziel Reid said that he was inspired to write When Everything Feels Like the Movies after watching an episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show.  He was moved when Ellen spoke about a young boy who had been killed for being gay.  Knowing this, I found some parts of the novel to be too literal of a translation of the events that Ellen referred to for my liking.  I was expecting a more creative interpretation of the problems faced by LGBT youth.

There are other YA LGBT novels that I have read that I preferred to When Everything Feels Like the Movies.  Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan comes to mind.  I found the characters and the storyline between them to be more complex, where I wasn't surprised by anything that I read in Everything.

Food for thought... is there a book that you read because of the controversy surrounding it?  Tell me about it! 

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