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Product details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Plume Books; Reprint edition (25 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452297613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452297616
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.9 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 666,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

It Gets Better A collection of original essays and testimonials written to LGBT teens from a variety of people, including celebrities, politicians, parents, and other ordinary people, emphasizing the possibilities of a positive future for them. Full description

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dan Filson on 25 April 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a great fan of Dan Savage and his warm and very stark advice on sexual matters from his Seattle lair (he also now travels all over spreading the word) and his caustic but witty commentaries on the humbuggery of those who make life so tough for people who are gay.

His initiative in launching YouTube messages to try to stem the flow of gay and lesbian teen suicides - and suicides of those fingered as gay but not - mushroomed well beyond his own and anyone else's imagination so that now there have been thousands of such messages.

This is a compilation of barely a hundred of those messages, and in a way the warmth of the human straight to camera messages on YouTube is slightly lost in the cold print on page. That's a great shame. Personally I would have omitted the messages from Nancy Pelosi and David Cameron, which read to me like going through motions messages, though keeping that from President Obama. It is the messages from folk who are actually lesbian or gay and who now live happy lives despite all they went through that are the most inspirational.

With that caveat I thoroughly commend this book. Every school library and youth club should have it, casually left where a teen can pick it up. And if you're the parent of a kid you suspect might be gay, get it and leave it around likewise - this may help him/her come out to you, the first step in the rest of their life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidd on 26 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is simply uplifting (even the hard passages). As someone who is in the process of coming out later in life it is a piercing education.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 44 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Over 110 Transcribed YouTube and Original Essays from 10,000 uploads 22 Mar. 2011
By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
On September 22, 2010, in response to publicized incidents of bullying and suicides, author Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, uploaded a video to YouTube on "It Get's Better," a plea to teens and youth to stay alive. They hoped to get 100 other videos in this collection.

Within 24 hours, someone uploaded a second video. In 3 days, there were several hundred videos. At the end of the week, there were 1,000. In week 4, the White House called with a request to add a video from President Obama. There are now more than 10,000 videos in the It Get's Better collection.

About 1% of these were selected and transcribed and combined with expanded and original essays to present these messages in written form. The themes of the essays are why gay, bi, questioning, outsider, bullied, or any other youth should not kill themselves or be self destructive, since their lives will and do get better. The book includes resources and suggestions, and should be read by teachers, librarians, youth workers, parents, and of course, youth.

The book features contributions by President Obama, David Sedaris, Kate Clinton, Murray Hill, Bishop Gene Robinson, Ellen Degeneres, Tim Gunn, UK PM David Cameron, Suze Orman, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chaz Bono, Bruce Ortiz, PereZ Hilton, Alex Orue and many more.

There is something for nearly everyone: Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender woman who teaches at Colby, writes about a post-college incident where she drove to the literal edge of North America to end her life from a cliff (but didn't); Gregory MaGuire, the author of "Wicked" writes an essay; while Kevin Yee, an actor in the musical, "Wicked," also writes one. It is one of the funniest essays in the book. He was in a boy band (Youth Asylum), and the producers, thinking he did not seem macho enough, dyed his hair blond, told him to mumble when talking, wear baggy pants, and walk more butch. The band did not survive, but he did, and it got better. Urvashi Vaid (partner of Kate Clinton) writes about why teens whould take more Action; and Bishop Gene Robinson writes about god's love, religion, true religion, and how it gets not only better but continues to get better.

Brinae Lois Gaudet in Wisconsin, just one year out of high school, writes about finding a safe zone in a college dorm (in high school, a local citizen forced Gaudet's high school to take down "safe zone" signs). Alez R. Orve of Mexico City and Vancouver writes in Spanish about life in Mexico and Canada; Mark Ramirez (Anchorage) submitted his essay in ASL sign language; and another young man submitted an essay in Arabic.

Military bound? Lance Corporal James Wharton in London writes of life in the British Army and how he was married to his partner in a military barracks and was recently the cover pic of the UK's army magazine. Literary? Award winning novelist, Michael Cunningham, author of "A Home At The End of the World," about a gay teen's crush on a straight friend, writes about confronting childhood friends and coming out on NPR; and Alison Bechtel submits an essay in the form of a cartoon. Broadway? 22 Broadway actors tell snippets of their stories in one essay; while A. Y. Daring, a black lesbian choreographer for Lada Gaga write about life in Ontario. David Sedaris submitted an original essay to tell readers to keep journals. He adds that people who are good to you make for lousy stories, while all those bullies will make for good, future stories.

Jakes Shears (Jason Sellards) who, with Scott Hoffman, makes up the Scissor Sisters (which is touring with Lady Gaga) submits an essay on coming out at age 15, but being bullied badly and having his school principal blame him for his own abuse (it was so bad, he moved schools). Yet, he found success and happiness after graduation.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the senior rabbi at Congregation CBST in Manhattan, is in the book with an essay on religion, god, and bullying; and Jules Skloot, a Brooklyn based dancer and choreographer, graduate of Hampshire and Sarah Lawrence, and a member of Jews with Tattoos includes a story. Six gay Orthodox Jewish young men have a group essay in which they discuss life growing up in Orthodox, Haredi, and Hasidic homes and Jewish summer camps, their survival at these institutions, and their current, happier and productive lives. Barbara Gaines, 53, the Executive Producer of the "Late Show with David Letterman" writes of growing up on Long Island, playing clarinet in the school band, and attempting suicide after college. But had she died in 1979, she would have missed out on the rest of a fabulous life, her partner, and their child. Adam Roberts, a graduate of Emory and a star of the Food Network and the Amateur gourmet flog (food blog) site writes a hilarious essay on cooking a Friday night meal for his parents, his partner, and his partner's parents. In between recipes and tangential asides on food, he discusses being bullied in school, and finding how to express himself in a comedy troupe in college. As he says, high school is like a cold depressing tv dinner, but it gets better and you might end up as a plated dish of braised (braised!!) short ribs with polenta. Michael Feinstein (a piano player) has an essay, as does Suze Orman, 60, a financial advisor and proud lesbian who says life is NOT EASY, but it is all worth the struggle! (She is very demonstrative.)

More highlights? Andy Cohen, EVP of Bravo and head of original programming writes of growing up in St. Louis and wondering if he would be Charles Nelson Reilly or Paul Lynde; Jessica Leshnoff writes about thinking she was a bad person and overcoming a spiral of self-loathing; Jake Kleinman, a future pediatrician who is finishing med school at Tulane, writes about moving from being scared to being proud; and Sara Sperling write about being a college sorority leader and a lesbian.

There is lots more, and I think any reader, teen or adult, can find stories they can use for themselves, for counseling others, or just to know what some people have gone through or are experiencing in their lives.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
The Book with a Promise: It Gets Better 23 Mar. 2011
By Mark S. King - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The secret weapon in this collection of essays is this: gorgeous moments of aching truth that pierce the sometimes distracting hype associated with the "It Gets Better" project and deliver an emotional wallop.

It's an earnest, uneven, truly inspirational collection, with enough of those heart-in-your-throat moments to keep you reading.

Interestingly, the most famous names in the book have the least impact. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Franken, Suze Orman and even Ellen Degeneres are all here, but their pieces feel about as passionate as thumbing through their cue cards. Maybe fame leads to caution.

You'll have to settle for celebrity twice-removed to tap a wellspring of real emotion. Randy Roberts Potts is the grandson of the late, ultra-homophobic televangelist Oral Roberts, and Randy shares a family secret more salacious than his own homosexuality: his uncle, Ronald David Roberts, was also gay, and he was so despondent after coming out to his famous father that he killed himself with a gunshot to his heart.

Randy's own story is filled with religious and social trials, but there is victory. "I had to fight hard for it, but it finally happened," he writes, "the freedom to just be myself." And then he can't resist this: "My grandfather was famous for telling people, `Something good is going to happen to you!' And, it's strange to admit it, but he was right."

I still have the voice of lesbian Gabrielle Rivera ringing in my ears. Gabrielle appears on page 45 and not a moment too soon, bursting with truth and anger and passion. "It kind of doesn't get better," she proclaims. "...but what happens is this: You get stronger. You learn how to love yourself. You learn that other people are just crazy and caught up in their own crap."

The real excitement of this book is imagining where it will end up - a public library in South Dakota, the reading room of a youth center on an Air Force base -- and how, because we must, we get this book on the shelves on every junior high and high school in the country.

Last year, my (also gay) brother Dick and I sat down at our Mom's house and turned on the camera. Our It Gets Better video became a popular entry, and we were honored to be included in this book. It is neither the best nor the most moving essay in the book, but it does show an easy love between us, and that alone may be of value to a LGBT youth out there. I couldn't be more proud.

Like many people who grew up gay and afraid, my soul may have survived those years but I have a few scars left behind. It Gets Better gently strokes these wounds -- the toughened and the still-tender ones -- so that young people today might take heart and make the journey to adulthood a little more safely.

There's no denying the power of this project, and what could easily be the most important book of the year.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Another great step for an important project 25 Mar. 2011
By Leslie H. Nicoll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What is there to say? Of course this book is great. The entire It Gets Better Project is great and it is making a difference in the lives of LGBT youth. It started with videos, expanded to public service announcements on TV and on March 22, 2011, the six-month of anniversary of Dan and Terry's video going live on YouTube, the book came out, extending the project to a print platform.

It seems a little backwards, doesn't it? Doesn't the movie usually get made from the book? Well yes, but Dan and Terry had a great idea to use social networking as a way to speak directly to LGBT youth. The phenomenal success of the project (at present, there are more than 10,000 videos at the It Gets Better website) demonstrates that there is a need, interest, and support for outreach to young people who may be struggling with their feelings and fears.

And now there is the book. One goal of the project is to have a copy of the book in every single library in the US. Because, guess what--there are probably kids out there who don't have access to the Internet, or whose parents won't let them watch YouTube, or who are so fearful and afraid of what might happen to them if someone found out they were surfing the `net for info on being gay that they don't. So this vast resource that has been created in six short months is not available to them. But hopefully they have access to a library, whether in their school or town, and they can go there and find this book and realize: it gets better.

If you've watched any of the videos, you know what the essays in the book are like. Many are transcribed from the videos but there is also new content, or in Terry Miller's words, "Videos that haven't been made yet." There are lots of famous names but also plenty of stories from ordinary people. The variety of emotions, topics, and thoughts that are presented are important--it is clear that Savage and Miller wanted to make sure that every base was covered so that no child who reads this would feel left out--no matter who you are, where you live, or what your circumstance there is someone else out there in the world who has gone through what you are going through and came out on the other side--and is able to say: it gets better.

This is not the sort of book to read straight through--it's not a novel, after all. It's better to flip though and read essays at random, bookmark those that resonate, and make notes (if you are a note-making-in-the-book type of person). Fortunately, the publisher realized these features apply to e-readers as well as those who enjoy print. The table of contents is linked so that on my Kindle, it was very easy to skip from chapter to chapter.

I think this is an important book to own and equally important to pass on. Consider, please, if you can afford it, buying a copy to give to a friend, a young person, or a library. I just gifted a copy of the paperback to my daughter's high school. Won't you join me and do the same?

Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Audio book review 17 July 2013
By K. Athon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a review of the audiobook, and primarily a warning that the reading of this work is slow in speed and pedantic in tone, in my opinion. This is especially noticeable for the portions read by Paul Michael Garcia and these tended to be less interesting, I think, than if I had simply read the book. Certainly, the original essays were passionate, but many readings here are lacking even a spark of emotion.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I wasn't bullied and this made me cry 30 Jun. 2011
By waterbubble - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
but I'm also a big sack of weepy like Dan Savage says he is.

I read the excerpts by Dan and Terry and they really moved me and I read of few of the entries as well. I left with a few tears and it really opened my eyes to bullying experienced by LGBT, and bullying in general.

My personal experience: I grew up in the 90's. I was never bullied (I look back and wonder why considering the geek I was) and I thought bullying was just boy humor that was exaggerated out on Saved By the Bell and other comedic shows. I look back and wonder why I never saw much bullying happening. Actually, now that I think really hard about it, maybe it was happening, but I didn't realize it was bullying. People were made fun of - but for really dumb things, like their clothes, or just random accusations about people. I guess I just thought they were dumb comments, but didn't realize it might have affected people so much. There was one suicide and I remember people were sad about it. What struck me the most was I loved gay people. I don't know how I even came to know what gay was, but I had a couple friends who I was pretty close with and I was naive (again) to their sexual orientation. When they told me, I thought it made them cooler. Little did I know what they were going through. Obviously, I feel that if they couldn't even talk to me, then it's great that others can reach out to them first to know that there are safe places they can go to and talk about it.

The book itself is moving. The recent interview with Dan and Terry at Google adds more depth and realism to their excerpts because it adds the emotion of their voice and heart.
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