The God Box
Paul has lived his entire life being taught that homosexuality is wrong and a sin, and trying to keep his own secret feelings towards guys to himself while attempting to change them. Then one day, Manuel, a new transfer student, comes into his school and turns Paul's world upside down. Manuel is openly gay and Christan, and it leaves Paul wondering how the two can co-exist. Through a series of events, Paul is finally able to reconcile his confused feelings of balancing his spirituality and sexuality.
While I have not gone through a similar experience, and therefore wanted to slap the main character a few times throughout the book, I really enjoyed this novel. I was pretty accepting of my own sexuality, and figured that if my religion didn’t accept it, why should I accept my religion? By the way, there were other thoughts besides that one that led me to becoming atheist, but that’s another story and one that doesn’t need to be discussed here.
So reading about how Paul was so torn between both his feelings toward the same gender and his feelings toward his religion which (supposedly) condemned his homosexual feelings was not a relatable experience and, to me, because of my own feelings toward religion, made me not like him at certain points in the book. During these times, I desperately wanted him to just come to the obvious conclusion of leaving his religion and just being proud of who he is and who he loves. But, as we all know, not everyone is the same, or thinks the same, and reading this book showed me how someone could balance the two in their life and not feel torn between the two. It doesn’t necessarily change my own feelings as to how I view religion in my life, but it helps me to understand people who have both in their lives.
Throughout this fantastic storyline are passages from the Bible and the arguments against the specific lines pointed at when people condemn homosexuality and use the Bible to justify it. This is a very powerful book, one that definitely sticks with you after you're finished, and it's one that tackles several important, pertinent issues very well. Highly recommended!
Other GLBT titles to look for!
Rainbow series (Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road), So Hard to Say, and Getting It by Alex Sanchez
Geography Club, Order of the Poison Oak, and SplitScreen (in that order) by Brent Hartinger
Boy Meets Boy and Wide Awake by David Levithan
Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina
A Really Nice Prom Mess and A Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan
Freak Show by James St. James
Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
And there’s plenty more out there that deal with teen sexuality and being gay, so just look around or check out this link to Alex's site where there's a huge list of GLBT titles with book summaries. To end this post, I went back and found Alex’s answer from an interview I did with him last October about why he wrote The God Box. There’s also a longer essay about his inspiration behind it included in the back of the book as well, which was really interesting to read. Alex also has a Spirituality section on his website with lots of helpful links. Anyway, without further ado, here's the inspiration QnA:
In your new book The God Box, you focus on what it means to be gay and Christian. Was this something that was difficult to do, or was it something you had gone through as well? Did you have to do a lot of research to get things as realistic as possible?
Writing The God Box helped me to sort out a lot of my own thoughts and experiences about being gay and Christian. I did a lot of research on the so-called "clobber" passages in the Bible that are used to denigrate gay people. When you really start to study them, as the characters in The God Box do, you begin to realize that the passages are far from clear, culture-bound, and selectively used to judge and persecute people, exactly what so much of the rest of the Bible tells us not to do.
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