Novel: Stories of the Boy with the Yellow Socks
Author: J. Carter Swift
Genres: Young Adult, Family
Part of Book Series: Standalone
Summary: A timely and original achievement, this collection of short stories tells in beautiful prose the early life of Jan Blixen, a boy growing up gay in Iowa. Alive with unforgettable characters who leap from the pages to introduce themselves, each of these stories is a small masterpiece that pulls the reader ever deeper into the life of a boy who refuses to allow abuse and bullying to defeat him. Jan Blixen rises, and as he does the reader will find themselves cheering him on, standing with him against all odds as he uses his greatest gift to survive…his gift of gentleness.
Post’s Author Opinion:
Note: This is a personal opinion, it does not reflect YaoiOtaku’s official position towards the novel.
This book is not about romance, but it is filled with love. Familial love, friendship love, love for writing and most importantly, self-love. The main character, Jan Blixen, shared with the readers a look into his life though his ‘short stories’. He met new people, deal with life and lost a lot, but he always gained something new at the end. It was like a never-ending silver lining.
The summary was right about readers wanting to cheer on him and stand with him at all odds. I found that I wanted to see Jan have his happy ending, which he somewhat did at the end of the book, except that I wanted more. Jan’s positivity was what gave me the urge to treasure him at all cost, despite him being a character in a book. I sometimes cringe at “overly positive” characters who are pushovers and always let the karma do the work for them. Unlike those characters, Jan was the opposite. Yes he was gentle, he didn’t learn self-defense so that he could stand up to his oppressors, but he utilized his brain, used his understanding of the human nature and what was inside of one’s heart to not only save himself when he was in undesirable situations, but also save the other party as well. He was a boy full of hurt, at the same time he was also full of love and that was just beautiful.
I don’t agree with the fact that he and his mother stayed in an abusive household because they believe that the father will finally “come around one of these days”. It may have worked out for him, but not many people had the same fate. I also didn’t like the fact that it was a recurrent theme in many of the YA books where the characters went through ‘metamorphosis’ and put on some muscles over the summer. It was a wrong message to give to all the effeminate/small/petite/pretty young men out there that before they can take over their life, they need to earn a muscle badge. I don’t think it was necessary for Jan to ‘glow up’ just to show that he had matured while staying over at his aunt’s ranch. After all, he had already decided what kind of man he wanted to be when he fell in love with Dylan, and that had nothing to do with physical appearance.
Although it was set in the 70’s, I didn’t really feel the vibes other than the people’s reactions to homosexuality and the non-existent mobile phones. I had to constantly remind myself throughout my read that the story took place around fifty years ago and yet a lot of the incidents are still happening these days, making the book entirely relevant to any young adults who would read it.
If you’re looking for steamy, sexy, romance book, this is not it. But if you’re looking for a story about love and how it became a gay young man’s strength that turned him into a wonderful, mature self that he is, I truly recommend this book for you.
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