Rating: 5+ stars
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Length: Novel

I am simply overwhelmed.  This book, Kamikaze Boys, is perhaps one of the finest Young Adult novels ever written.  Author Jay Bell wows us once again with his consummate storytelling, his impeccable characterization, and his superior ability to weave a remarkably sweet and lyrical love story.  Honestly, there are simply not enough superlatives to give this story its due.  But, dear reader, I shall endeavor to give this novel its well-earned accolades.

“Being brave is just doing whatever the hell you want, no matter how bad it scares you.”

Words of wisdom for the supposedly violent and crazy Connor Williams a 19-year-old senior at a nondescript high school in Olathe, Kansas.  The boy he’s speaking to is David, a 16-year-old junior who he has just rescued from a group of bullies led by his arch-nemesis Chuck Bryl.  Both boys are gay—and very proud of the fact.  They wander into each other’s world and take up residence there, eventually falling in love and enduring horrific consequences for doing so.

While popular rumor has Connor killing his father and serving time in jail, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, Connor’s father was drunk and driving the two of them across town when he lost control and changed their lives forever.  Now his father is a shell of a man and addicted to multiple painkillers.  Connor, after having lost several months to recovering from the accident, repeats his senior year and lives life on the outside, saving for the day he can move out and live on his own terms. He loves his family but feels that he is drowning slowly, until he meets David.

David’s parents are divorced and he lives with his driven, professorial father whose main goal in life is to see his son in the best university possible—come hell or high water.   David lives a life in fear—constantly lurking in the shadows, trying to avoid bullies, and spending most every day with his homeschooled friend, Gordon where they disappear into role-playing games for hours each day.  While David loves his father, they never really communicate with each other and are more like two ships passing in the night.  David lives a half-life, dancing alone in his room to beat back the pain and loneliness, until he meets Connor.

The two boys will discover each other and a deep well of love and support, living through prison, forced hospitalization, and the bigotry of modern psychology in order to realize their dream of being together on their terms, living a life they desire.

This novel was absolutely stunning.  I could not put it down.  Jay Bell weaves an incredibly tender love story into a tale of endurance and a fearless stand against bigotry and hate.  He gives us a window into the life of gay teens that dare to say that their love is valid, their needs are important, and their choice to live as they desire is not only right but theirs to decide.

I absolutely fell in love with these characters.  I watched in horror as their lives were manipulated by the very people who should have been shouldering their cause and fighting for their rights.  I cried as they were forced apart and wept for joy at their reunion.  And through it all I was entertained by the magical musings of the genius that is Jay Bell.

I simply cannot say enough about Kamikaze Boys by Jay Bell.  This is a 5+ star novel and an absolute must read!

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