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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of age without the hugs, 29 April 2006
This review is from: Jerome (Paperback)
I am a great fan of William Taylor's books. They are generally short and can, superficially, appear formulaic (a teenage boy struggles with internal demons, and it is only through some form of tragedy or loss that he is able to face up to them), but are so uniquely poignant and thought-provoking that they are always compelling. It may only take a couple of hours to read one of his novels, but it takes a good deal longer to recover from the emotional intensity of the journey. 'Jerome' is no exception.

It is difficult to provide a detailed synopsis of 'Jerome', without giving away too much. The basic premise is that the sudden death of Jerome draws together Jerome's girlfriend, Kate, and his best friend, Marco, who try to make sense of their loss. Since Kate is away studying in the US, and Marco is at their home town in New Zealand, their relationship and self-awareness evolves through a course of correspondence via letters and emails.

One particularly enticing feature of a William Taylor novel is that there are no perfect endings, reflecting the fact that life is a not a fairytale in which the confused boy is rescued by his knight in shining armour, but that for a gay teenager, there are tough times ahead. What each novel highlights, however, is that in order to have any chance of dealing with these problems, some form of self-acceptance is requisite, even if public/familial acceptance is not yet forthcoming. What also makes the stories ring true is that none of the characters are perfect: they are bullies; they make mistakes; they torture/hunt animals (a common theme in Taylor's work; perhaps demonstrating both the point that real people are flawed, and creating a 'torturing the innocent' analogy with the torment faced by gay children); above all, that the protagonists share the same qualities and flaws as all humans.

If you're looking for an escapist fantasy which re-lives your teenage years the way you wanted them to be (you and the head boy/senior prefect/football star end up in one another's arms), then check out Alex Sanchez's novels to obtain that satisfaction. If you're in the mood for something darker that doesn't dot all the Is or cross all the Ts, then a William Taylor novel - 'Pebble in a Pool', 'The Blue Lawn', 'Jerome' - certainly offers you that.
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Jerome by William Taylor (Paperback - 12 Oct. 1999)
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