1) I liked this book. The writing is concise; the dialogue reveals character issues, conflict and depth; and the main characters are likeable. There is sufficient conflict here that you want to find out what happens. Great YA book I would recommend to any young person who is interested in reading a book of teens set in the UK and where the teens encounter homophobia.
2) The most important thing I can say is that this is NOT YA. I have two queer teenage children and would not want them to read this book, nor would I recommend it for any impressionable young queer person. However, as an adult queer person, I found this book to be a gripping read. It's an amazing snapshot of two gay boys in love in Northern England, complete with massive character failings, rampant misogyny, and a lot of internalized homophobia that is never resolved quite as well as the boys (and perhaps the author) imagine. There's a domestic violence incident between the two boys that horrified me, and there were scenes that made me cry helplessly, but it was written beautifully and told so honestly that I couldn't put it down, even when the repeated use of slurs and other ugly content made me flinch. Highest marks for truly excellent writing, but I have to give it this caveat lest well-intentioned librarians or parents looking for material for their teens take my Honorable Mention as an endorsement of it as Young Adult-appropriate.
The Italian Word for Kisses by Matthew J. Metzger
Gay Young Adult
Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 22, 2015)
Amazon: The Italian Word for Kisses
Amazon Kindle: The Italian Word for Kisses
It’s no secret Tav and Luca are going out. After the accident, it’s also no secret that new kid Jack Collins has a raging case of homophobia, and is not best pleased about having given the kiss of life to a gay guy. Either Luca quits swimming, or Jack is going to make him.
Tav favours the tried-and-true method of knocking Jack’s teeth down his neck, only he can’t really afford another school suspension. Luca favours just ignoring him, only ignoring a penknife being held to your throat at New Year’s Eve is downright stupid.
Thing is, Luca suspects Jack is a victim of something himself. And time is running out for Luca to get through to Jack, before Jack gets rid of him.
Rainbow Awards Guidelines: http://www.elisarolle.com/rainbowawards/