In BKReview, coming of age



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Author: Tom Lennon
Rating3 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult (Gay Romance)
Format: ARC
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Release Date: March 2013
Recommended ReadingAGE 15+


THE LOWDOWN: I have to admit this was my first go at a gay love story and I wanted to love it. And I did…for a bit, but eventually the story became trite and bogged down with too many commentaries about how tough the kid (high school closeted male) had it. I understood wholly his plight by the fourth chapter, so after a while, I wanted the story (was there one really?) to move forward. It was supposed to be romance after all…or maybe not, the title is deceptive. However, considering this book was written about two decades ago, I took into consideration that the politics of the time were still very controversial and discussed rarely, if at all, especially in Ireland, where this book takes place. Overall, I would recommend it, but go into it knowing it is more about a boy finding his place in the world than anything else.

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SYNOPSIS: The year is 1990, and in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, Neil Byrne plays rugby, keeps up with the in-crowd at his school, and is just a regular guy. A guy who’s gay. It’s a secret he keeps from the wider world as he explores the city at night and struggles to figure out how to reveal his real self–and to whom.

First published in Ireland in 1993 and compared to The Catcher in the Rye by critics, Tom Lennon’s When Loves Comes to Town is told with honesty, humor, and originality.


THE NITTY-GRITTY: There are very few books that I sort of liked, yet had to convince myself to keep reading. Hating or loving a story is one thing. I can throw the bad ones in the trash without a second thought, immediately rushing to my computer with tons of critiques primed for publication. It’s easy to come up with reasons to warn people away from the bad, or discuss ad nauseam why something is fantastic, but what about those that didn’t really make an impression either way.

I struggled with When Love Comes To Town…a lot. I struggled to forge on, I struggled to find reasons why I liked it and I struggle now with what to really say about it other than it was bland. If a story were a color, this one would be beige. Completely neutral. Good writing, great characters with hearty and fleshed out personalities; a strong, yet unsure protagonist and awesome peripheral characters, yet they they didn’t do much and the story went nowhere really worth the time. It was a lot of preaching about why people are intolerant and the effect it has on the gay community, which I appreciate and want to read about, but when you get through 65 percent of the book and nothing has really happened except for the same internal monologue about hot guys you can never have because your town will burn you at the stake, you kind of ask yourself why. Why am I continuing on? So here’s the truth…I didn’t.

I would love to tell you that the book picked up and I was able to get through it because the ending just blew me away, but I can’t. After the 65 percent mark came and I was still left struggling to want to read it, I finally threw in the towel and bid it adieu. Sorry, Tom Lennon, I really wanted to rave about this one. But unfortunately love didn’t come to town quick enough for this reader. But check it out and see for yourself. Again, it wasn’t a bad book. It was just beige.

Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

Sara O'Connor
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