- Paperback: 122 pages
- Publisher: Alyson Publications Inc; New edition edition (24 May 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1555834930
- ISBN-13: 978-1555834937
- Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,647,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Blue Lawn Paperback – 24 May 1999
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About the Author
William Taylor has written many children's books and has been published worldwide. He won the New Zealand Library Association's Esther Glen Medal for Agnes the Sheep. His titles have been honoured by both the New York Public Library and the American Library Association. William Taylor used to be a teacher, and he lives in Raurimu near Mt Ruapehu in the central North Island. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This novel is delicately written. It never fully tells what the boys relationship is because it is in a slow process of formation. It isn't a representation of a typical coming out story or gay discovery, but a unique discovery of new sexual feelings for two sharply drawn individuals. It seems strange at times that for hormonal boys of their age there is no realisation throughout the narrative of their sexual feelings, but this is explained to be because they literally don't know what to do yet. The presence of Theo's grandmother sometimes distracts from the main story of the boy's budding relationship, though she is an interesting enough character that seems to be crying for a story in her own right. This is a very lovingly told, nice tale that explores how "normal" boys adjust to new aspects of their identity.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author wastes no time in getting his two protagonists together as friends. After a rocky start, they develop a tentative but devoted relationship. When it comes to talking to one another, the two boys don't do much to explore what their friendship really means. The author seems to stretch things a bit when it comes to having the two of them sleep together in an embrace yet not become sexual. I don't know if we can really believe that two teenaged boys would be able to hold back, especially since the older boy, Theo, clearly establishes himself as a risk-taker who is not afraid to make bold moves.
I was less taken with the Holocaust subplot. Although the author probably intended it as a way of giving more dimension to Theo's grandmother, I'd have prefered more time seeing how the boys interacted.
The author's style is pleasant -- just right for the material -- and the New Zealand slang came across as rather charming to this American reader. The character of David does seem like a nice kid.
Recommended, but only if you are not looking for a sex romp every five pages.
Also, with such a short novel, short even by young adult standards, the author should have concentrated on one storyline; that of the two boys and their developing relationship. The side story of Gretel, Theo's grandmother, was distracting and out-of-place, having little bearing on what was happening between the boys. At the end, when we learn about her tragic past, it seems rushed, a device to shed some light on Theo's behavior, as well as her own. The author got so caught up in this character that he lost sight of his readers. I picked up this book in the hopes of reading an engaging story of two teenage boys discovering the joys, the heartaches, and the thrills of first love. Instead, I found myself growing impatient when at times Theo seemed to be a third wheel in the friendship between David and Gretel. I can't imagine the average teenage reader will have more patience for this than I. Perhaps the author should have saved Gretel's story for a different kind of book.
Ultimately, Theo is just too undeveloped a character. The reader is first introduced to him as a rebel who cares little for what others think of him. Very quickly the author seems to run out of steam when it comes to delving any deeper into Theo's motivations. His rebelliousness seems to be mere bravado; a pose. He initiates contact with David by making a rather brazen proposition on the second page of the book. Later, when he confesses his terror at the prospect of being gay for the rest of his life it doesn't ring true. Up until then he has seemed to sure of himself and of his ultimate success at hooking up with David. The far less worldly David instinctively realizes that there are strength in numbers when he confides in Theo, " It doesn't seem quite so bad when we're together. When we get to see each other and be together." This isn't out of keeping with David's character. Early in the book, he quits rugby after coming to the realization he is playing for the wrong reasons. He consistantly shows himself to be a young man unwilling to be untrue to himself. He has spent a great deal of time getting used to the idea even to the point of examing himself all over and concluding that he is not different from other boys accepting who he is attracted to. He has few illusions about who he is attracted to and is ready to accept it as long as he has love. In David, the author proves he can write a believable and consistant character so it is a mystery why he didn't work a little harder to flesh out Theo. The grandmother is a more fully realized character than Theo. One never has any doubts what motivates her behavior. She too is one with very little illusions about herself. I believe the author's intentions were good in developing Gretel the way he did; her horrible past is meant to provide insight to Theo's character and at the same time provide a bit of a moral lesson about hate which is clearly meant as a plea for tolerance for the young gay protaganists. As a message device is was handled far less clumsily then most young adult authors manage. Unfortunately, the author relies to heavily on our acceptance that Theo's personality has been shaped soley by the reality of Gretel's past. While it would surely have some bearing on Theo's character, too much is left out. When David confronts Theo, demanding to know why he hasn't been told about Gretel's past, accusing him of not caring, Theo retorts, "What the hell d'you mean? It is me. That is what I am. She is what I am. That, and more besides. Stuff she hasn't told you, might never tell you." We do learn the rest of the story, but not until the penultimate page of the book. While Gretel's revelation does provide some insight into Theo's character, it merely leaves one wondering why the author chose to clue us in at the end, when it doesn't really matter any more, at least not to the reader, and after all, who is the book for if not the reader?
This novel is beautifully written. It never fully tells what the boys relationship is because it is in a slow process of formation. It isn't a representation of a typical coming out story or gay discovery, but a unique discovery of new sexual feelings for two sharply drawn individuals. It seems strange at times that for hormonal boys of their age there is no realisation throughout the narrative of their sexual feelings, but this is explained to be because they literally don't know what to do yet. The presence of Theo's grandmother sometimes distracts from the main story of the boy's budding relationship, though she is an interesting enough character that seems to be crying for a story in her own right. This is a very lovingly told, nice tale that explores how "normal" boys adjust to new aspects of their identity.
However, there are a few things in which I was [am] a bit puzzled about. Was the reason for not exploring the characters moments with sex something to be best left to the imagination or just being cautious? What becomes of the characters with their families, friends and society?
My believe is that maybe the author left these details out so that maybe...just maybe some day, he could pick up the story again and continue it. I can clearly see this story being continued and explored more...so, who's to say?