Oddly Normal: One Family's Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality by John R. Schwartz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A very emotional story that was well written. I was very moved by several sections of the book, on the point of choking back tears.
The positives are the love this father and mother have for their son and their ideas about letting him grow up to be who he is and proud of and happy with himself are fantastic. Several key issues were explored in ways I hadn't seen discussed before and with a depth and modernness that made this book very relevant and refreshing.
I was happy that not too much time was spent on the opposing viewpoints, which can fill and overwhelm this kind of story, just read a book by Dan Savage. The story here is not close-minded people but dealing with a gay teen in a modern concept, in a post-Matthew Sheppard world, what does that look like now?
Another thing that made this very special was that the father cared enough to write the book, it wasn't the son writing this 10 years from now. That the father cared enough to find out all this back story is very moving.
That being said, the book does derail a tiny bit in the second half. The statistics become overwhelming and the American-centric viewpoint can be tiring when you live in a country that has had gay marriage for 10 years. Also the medical jargon and diagnoses of the son seemed to be just perfect in the first half and I loved the factual interludes, but in the second half I lost the ability to follow along as the talk of the spectrum and the final diagnosis, whatever it was, were going on and on.
This is a book that was waiting to be written and it was done well. I had never heard of the minority stress ideas previously and it's a fantastic, well presented concept.
I had some quotes:
"...it’s natural for effeminate kids to butch up a bit as they become conscious of the ways and attitudes of those around them. But further research suggests that hiding that side of themselves can come at a high price."
""if they believe that [negative attitudes about gays] and thought, Well, this is what is in my future.”
These anguished feelings, he said, impinge upon our sense of what is known as the “possible self”—our imagined future, our mental construct of the possibilities ahead. “The possible self is not only important because of how it projects to the future and how it maybe helps a person think about the future,” he explained. “It is also related to what people feel right now” about themselves.""
"The parents [at PFLAG] referred to the moment of coming out as a statement of something fundamental, using phrases like, “He told me who he was.” Not that he told them what his sexual orientation was, or how to classify him in the taxonomy of sexual types. This was identity, something at the core."
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
“I feel like the school would rather he had autism than be gay,” she said. “They seem more comfortable with the concept of autism, which they understand how to deal with.”
"They [parents] don’t like to think about kids having sex... Even though people have a sexual orientation long before they have sex, he said, society tends to conflate the two."
"He was a young boy who was quite normal in many ways, but quite odd in other ways. Most people are, you will find."
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