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Book Reviews
July 29, 2009 posted by Nikki

David Inside Out – Lee Bantle

My mom can be confusing without even trying. If I tell her I have to something because everyone is doing it, she says, just be yourself. She says people respect that. But what if you send fan mail to romance writers? And get teary-eyes at chick flicks? What if you still get spooked during thunderstorms? These are not things that you want to share with others. Being yourself might make people reject you. People you desperately care about. Being yourself only works if you’re basically cool. Which I’m not.

There’s another problem with mom’s advice. How can you be yourself if you don’t know who that is?

David is pretty sure he’s gay. At least he knows that much about himself. He thinks about guys in sexual ways and he can’t help but perve on his team mates in the showers after practice. But David doesn’t think he should be thinking these things, so he snaps a rubber band around his wrist to snap at every time he has an ‘inappropriate’ thought about a guy.

But then Sean, the guys he’s been crushing on, sort of outs himself to David. Although its clear that Sean has no intention of outing himself to anyone else, David does pretty much anything Sean wants him to – even when its clear that Sean is not going to reciprocate.

Then David gets brave and tells Kick – the girl he’s kind of been seeing. She doesn’t flip out, like he thought he would, but she doesn’t keep the information to herself, like she said she would. Then Sean’s parents ban him from seeing David, and everything goes a little haywire.

Eventually, David grows a pair and takes a stand against Sean’s manipulative, selfish behaviour. He fixes things with Kick, and his other friends, too. While the ending is kind of nice, I wouldn’t go so far to say that this is a feel good novel. Sean – whom I absolutely loathe, by the way – doesn’t really grow at all and appears to learn no lessons whatsoever. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m not of the opinion that the characters need to grow morally in a story to make it good. I’m just saying that Sean was the same frustrating ass at both the beginning and the end of the novel.

By the end, I was convinced that Sean’s simply one of those people that’s going to live a long, lonely and frustrating life. Being gay is something that he’ll never be comfortable with and he’ll continue to manipulate people like David forever. Something deep inside me says I should feel sorry for him, but I disliked him so much that I just couldn’t bring myself to do so.

David, however, is a much more likable character. Although he’s a bit of a pushover for most of the novel, and his naivety and inability to see his relationship with Sean for what it is, is kind of annoying, he grew a pair just at the right place in the story and he restored all my faith in him once more. Like with so many other novels I’ve read lately, I thanked my lucky stars that the novel was narrated through David’s point of view, and not Sean’s. Had it been the other way around, I may not have been able to finish.

I just have one question, for anyone that might have read this novel. Why oh why did David sleep with Kick? I mean, it fits the story I suppose, but I just don’t understand. He didn’t want to. He didn’t even have to. She knew he was gay. WHYYYYYYYY? I was angry with David for following through on this… I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on this scene.

The story flows well, and it’s pretty easy to read. I reckon lots of you out there might like this one.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

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  • I thought that maybe he slept with Kick to see how sleeping with a girl would feel like. A lot of gay men (though not me) sometimes give it a try just to see how it is. It’s been a little while since I read the book so I can’t really remember, but there must have been some logic there in the text?

    Great review- I really enjoyed this book too.

  • Hi. I’m the author and thought I would stop by and thank you for reviewing this book. You brought an original perspective and made me think about things in a new way.
    You had a strong reaction to Sean. He is self-involved and willing to use David. He’s on the down-low and can’t admit his real feelings. He is a cautionary tale. I still feel for him though because he has gotten so many negative messages from society, his parents, the cool guys at school, that he is terrified to be who he really is.
    Now, why did David have sex with Kick? This is a very interesting question. i’ll give you my thoughts:
    Because teenagers make bad decisions about sex. I sure did. Because Kick invited it, perhaps naively thinking this would change everything. Because they had drunk a bottle of wine. Because David wanted one last try to see if he could make it work.
    David was not thinking clearly about Kick’s feelings, or how this might change things for her. This is a failing on his part just as was his cultivation of their romantic relationship.
    In the end, I think, they both learn from their mistake, and hopefully can stake out a healthy friendship going forward. Because they really like each other.
    Thanks for giving a little attention to the book. Your website is very well written. Best wishes for continued succes with it — all the way down under.

    Lee Bantle

  • I’m 13 and David Inside Out may have been a little to mature for my age, but I loved it!

  • id like to give it a try but at the moment im reading too many things at once!!!

  • and…you know….homework haha

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