Coming Out Catholic is in the Young Adults category but is a good read for people of all ages. Right from the first page, author Alex Dunkin hooks us through a confronting opening chapter with a twist.
The main character, an ordinary, middle-class teenage boy in year 10 at a Catholic school, is determined to lay all of his thoughts and feelings on the line, describing the fears and complexities of teenage life, sexuality and religion.
The writing is raw and honest, and the teenage voice is authentic. In some ways that is also a hindrance, as some of the grammar and spelling are not perfect – the one typo that grated most was the difference between “prey” and “pray” – not a good one for a book dealing with Catholicism!
It is definitely not a book for those offended by language or sex scenes but these are not gratuitous. The sex scenes are written exactly as they happen for a teen, with all of the ensuing confusion & panic.
There is the angst of our hero realising he is gay, coming out, how to relate to friends and fellow students and dating, while the adults involved in his life are overwhelmingly supportive: his parents search the web for ways to be supportive, statistics and stories of what it is like to come out; his school priest is the first person he comes out to, who listens and helps him work out how he feels. More than anything, the novel shows the issues he has as he tries to work himself out, how to relate to his peers and whether he can reconcile his faith with his homosexuality.
I recommend it as a good read and recommend it especially to parents or guardians of gay children.
Reviewed by Michelle Baylis
Disclaimer: Alex Dunkin is a regular Glam Adelaide Arts contributor. Michelle Baylis is a guest reviewer.