Leave Myself Behind – Bart Yates


I finish my pizza and go upstairs to change clothes before starting work on the attic. My room finally looks like a room. I’ve got a giant poster of Yates on one wall, looking very professorial, and on the other wall are Frost and Emerson and Virginia Woolfe. My books are stacked up on boards resting on milk crates and take up an entire wall; I’ve got the collected works of Dickens, Shakespeare, Wild, Faulkner, Melville and Austen.

Jesus. I guess I really am gay.

I strip off my shirt and open my chest of drawers to get another. Lying on top of the pile is J.D.’s Sierra Club tee shirt. He left it here last week and Mom must have finally got around to doing the laundry. I pull it out and hold it to my face. I can still smell him in the fabric. Damn him. I toss it back in the drawer and get one of my own.

God damn him.

When Noah’s mother packed up their lives and moved them from Chicago to a rural town in New England, Noah never expected to find love, especially not with the boy from across the street. But J.D. isn’t gay. No sir. He’s got a girlfriend, and they’ve even done it and everything. But since when did that mean anything at all? Noah isn’t stupid, and he’s not so completely blinded by his feelings for J.D. that he can’t see how J.D. feels. Even if J.D. can’t, or wont.

It’s not so easy for J.D., though. At least Noah has a supportive mother who loves him regardless of his sexual orientation. J.D. isn’t so lucky. He has a hard time getting any kind of affection out of his mother at the best of times; imagine how it would be for him if he came out…

How long can you deny your feelings for someone, though? J.D. soon discovers that just being Noah’s friend isn’t enough. One thing leads to another and suddenly the whole town seems to know all their deepest and darkest secrets. And in this particular small American town, homosexuality isn’t looked upon favourably. Noah and J.D. find themselves in all kinds of trouble.

Noah’s voice is raw, fresh, and so very real. He tells it like it is: straight up, no BS. He has a real simplistic way of breaking things down, of looking at the world. If there were more Noah Yorks walking the Earth, society would be a better place for all. While Leave Myself Behind deals with some serious, heartbreaking issues, it manages to do so lightly (for lack of a better word). Noah’s sarcasm and his sense of humour shine a little bit of light on an otherwise devastatingly depressing story. I know Noah and J.D.’s story may ring true for some, but I hope that not too many queer readers can relate to the boys’ experiences in this book. No one should ever have to go through what J.D. and Noah did. Not ever.

But this is more than just a coming out story. This is a story about family, truth, and love – all kinds of love. As J.D. so sadly learns, sometimes love just isn’t enough. Sometimes the world throws so much at you, that not even love can heal the deepest wounds.
Leave Myself Behind comes with a tissue box warning, folks. You’ll cry from laughter, but I’m certain you’ll cry from sadness too. A must read for everyone, everywhere.


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