Sunday, 7 September 2014


THIS BOOK IS GAY by James Dawson
Pages: 271
Date: 07/09/2014
Grade: 5+
Details: Non-Fiction
            Received from Hot Key Books
            Through Nudge

The blurb:

Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT*. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read.

My thoughts:

“LGBT people are strong. Because we have to be.”

The author’s note says:

“This book is Gay is a collection of facts, my ideas and my stories but also the testimonies of more than three hundred amazing LGBT people who shared their stories in July 2013. I conducted an international survey from which many of the quotes are taken, and also carried out more in-depth interviews with some selected participants.”

“Whether you think you might be LGBT or think you’re straight but have questions or you’re anywhere in between, this book is for you.”

Sometimes you read a book and find yourself wondering why it took so long before someone wrote it. Occasionally you come across a book and you’re grateful to have the opportunity to not only read it but also to be in a position where you can tell others about it. ‘This Book is Gay’ is such a book.  

This book was written for young people who may find themselves questioning their sexuality or afraid of what the conclusions they’ve come to are going to mean for them. And as such I think it is brilliant. The author tackles every aspects of the LGBT spectrum, doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable truths but doesn’t turn this into a sob story or a scary tale.

In fact, what I liked most about this book was the fact that while the message was serious, the tone in which it was shared was light-hearted and comforting. The message was loud and clear; while your life may become more complicated when you come out it will result in you being true to yourself, and ultimately, that is the one thing all of us want.

The drawings in this book, combined with the author’s voice keep the tone light and the message loud and clear. The personal testimonies shared throughout give this book an intimate feeling while showing that there are no one-size-fits-all answers or solutions. What is true or works for one person may not be the best solution for another, and that too is fine.

This book should have pride of place in every (school) library, should be given to all kids once they reach the age where sex and sexuality come into play. In fact, I would advocate putting this book on the curriculum of secondary schools. After all, as it says in this book, while kids are given all sorts of information about heterosexual relationships, other options are rarely mentioned. Imagine how it must feel if you are a teenager who is not attracted to the opposite sex, or a teenager who is not sure about their gender identity. I’ll go one further and say this book would probably make things a lot clearer for the average adult too.  

I would like to think ‘This Book is Gay’ could be another step towards that world in which sexuality and gender stop being an issue and all of us can be free to be who and what we are, without fear and discomfort. It is in that spirit that I applaud this author on a job very well done, and thank him for writing a well conceived and brilliantly executed book.

I don't usually show the same cover twice in one review but today I will, just to show how many quotable passages I came across. In the end I had to limit myself to the quotes I started and ended this review with. For all the other good bits (and really, this book is one huge good bit) you'll have to read the book.

Who do you want to be? There’s only one rule; always be true to yourself.”