Author: Alex Dunkin
Publisher: Prizm Books
Ebook only at this stage
Let it be known that I am not a fan of the whole “young adult fiction” genre. But suspending my feelings on this matter, I can see how a young reader would enjoy Coming Out Catholic.
Prizm Books is a boutique publisher of fiction for young LGBT people: “stories for every young adult under the rainbow”, and Dunkin’s novella is certainly not going to be of interest to anyone over about the age of 16. In fact, I would say its appeal is more to the just-pubescent: the average 16 year old boy, gay or not, might find this a bit too “adult trying to be down with the kids”.
This is the story of a year in the life of a young, gay, Catholic boy (as the title so clearly outlines). It documents his struggles with his sexuality, his strong attachment to his faith and his relationships with various people in his life. This later includes the priest at school who turns out to be a part-time drag queen.
Now, quite possibly, this is based on a true story, but it rings sadly ludicrous in this fictional work: it’s like a gay boy’s Disney fantasy. And it lacks any real sense of “story”. Dunkin’s choice to write in first person and present tense, gives this even more of a sense of just being “a year in the life of”, rather than a novella with a plot. There is also far too much reliance on dialogue, and, often unrealistic and tedious dialogue at that.
There are some nice touches: the character of Mark, his best friend, is beautifully drawn. More could have been made of him. Some descriptions of the protagonist’s burgeoning sexuality are quite lovely and will probably ring true to young readers. But these touches come in amongst swags of wordy padding.
Overall, this reads like a solid first draft of what could be a good novella. I’m sure Dunkin has much better writing in him.
For $4.99, this is a worthwhile investment for any LGBT 12 year old you may know, but I’m not sure that anyone else would be too keen.
Unless you happen to know a drag-queen priest….
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Disclaimer: Alex Dunkin is a contributor to the Glam Adelaide Arts section