Thursday, May 12, 2011

Not Really A Review: Monoceros

Alright, i'm supposed to be getting down to serious business, but my supervisor's out of town! Which means I can spare a few minutes to talk about Suzette Mayr's new book Monoceros.

i wish i could mail a copy of Monoceros back in time to give to teenaged me, though i think i appreciate the book much more since i've worked in a high school. Monoceros deals with the impact of the suicide of a gay teenager on his community: the closeted principal and guidance counselor, the wistful girl obsessed with unicorns, his secret boyfriend, and his boyfriend's jealous girlfriend. Mayr takes a tragic subject and teases out humour; who knew a book about teen suicide could be so wickedly funny? And the Catholic high school -- well that could have been my school. The weird disjunction between what the church says and what teachers might actually believe or do . . . official policy versus real life . . . the inability to talk openly or directly to students looking for advice or guidance on sexual issues. This book gets it so right.

i've written before about the bullying i experienced in high school because i looked gay. i've written about the attempts of the Halton Roman Catholic District School Board to ban Gay-Straight Alliances (and the comparison Alice Anne LeMay made between GSA clubs and Neo-Nazis). i don't think i mentioned that the year i spent in a Calgarian high school involved an incident where my model UN team nearly got pulled from competition because ABORTION might be discussed. Or the time my Teacher Adviser outright denied that George W. Bush might restrict where health care aid funds could be distributed based on abortion provision.

Reviewers have suggested that high school students need to read this book. i think even more than that, this book needs to be given to teachers, to parents, to priests, to school librarians. To board of education members. To the people who influence and control the environment, and therefore the lives, of students.

And yes, to teenagers too. Because teenagers especially need unicorns.

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