Alliance Publishing, Inc, 2001 Highly
Recommended ... 5 stars
Sixteen year old Killian Kendall
is the son of the local homophobic District Attorney. Killian
has never been particularly popular with his classmates, but
he does have three friends with whom he pals around with some
in and out of school. When Killian befriends a new classmate
immediate problems erupt. Zach and Jesse are furious that Killian
is talking with a gay, Asher is upset and is not sure exactly
why. Seth Connelly, parents divorced, has just come to live with
his father. Seth is a pleasant young man who has decided he has
to be who he is and if his being gay is a problem for others
Seth is brutally murdered and
Killian is stabbed and left for death. As Killian's father comes
to grips with the notion that his son will no longer simply obey
the overbearing man's restrictive rules; Killian's life is changed
forever. Killian's father bans him from the family home and Seth's
father Adam provides a home for the youngster. Killian and female
classmate Gilly become 'an item,' Killian and Seth's younger
brother attend a costume party where a menacing 'Batman' appears,
Killian's car windows are smashed, his mother leaves his father,
and Zach is found murdered in the same manner as was Seth.
Thanksgiving spent in Adam's
home brings together a group of both straight and gay 'extended
family' who teach Killian that those who care for us are our
family even when our blood relatives may have turned their backs
on us. The killer is at last unmasked and Christmas brings promise
for happier days ahead.
Writer Josh Aterovis has produced
a nicely wrought work filled with teenaged angst, homophobic
worst and the tribulations facing many in our society as they
come to understand their own sexual orientation. "Bleeding
Hearts" presents a picture of a young man dealing not only
with the usual teenaged confusion as befalls all kids trying
to sort out who and what they are but who is suddenly faced with
the notion that he is gay.
The year setting for "Bleeding
Hearts" is not given, so the reader is left to suppose that
it is set in our modern time. As a straight, middle aged mom
of adult sons I can only imagine what the young man in this particular
story must be facing as he is trying to find his place in the
adult world. His problems are compounded when he realizes the
adult world he thought he would be entering is not the one he
will actually be a part of.
I remember well the tone in this
country toward teens in general and gays in particular during
the 1980s and 90s. When my own home was filled with untamed teens
struggling to become adults in a world that saw their hair, music,
noise, automobile driving, aspirations, selves as the strangest
generation ever; I remembered my own teenaged years. We too were
viewed the same. Times and attitudes regarding either what society
often sees as 'unacceptable, aberrant' sexuality or 'acceptable,
expected' teenaged angst have not changed much from that time
to this. Facing one 'acceptable' aspect of adolescence was troublesome
at times for me both as a teen and again as a parent. It is difficult
to imagine having to deal with both 'acceptable and unacceptable'
at once. Writer Aterovis has skillfully given us a peek into
what these oungsters face as they step into a not always friendly
In the manner of Dorien Grey
and his Dick Hardesty series writer Aterovis presents a group
of characters who are very 'real.' From the over bearing homophobic
father, the downtrodden mother and on to the hopeful 'girl friend,'
in addition to each of the other actors in this work, the characters
are not always likeable but are credible. Dialogue is believable.
Recent news stories about gay bashing lends credibility to the
situations and actions presented in "Bleeding Hearts".
Interwoven into this story of
a young man's 'coming out' is the mystery of who is murdering
the fellows Killian befriends. Seth was gay, Zach was not. The
deaths cannot simply be the result of a homophobic miscreant.
Watch the red herrings!
While this work is a fiction
it may well serve to help both young, perhaps frightened gays
who are just becoming aware of their own sexuality along with
the straight community toward an understanding of the problems
besetting a group not too well understood by either side. Teens
whether gay or straight live in an agitated, turbulent world
of their own at best. When teens face the added problems of learning
to deal with parental abandonment, societal restrictions and
loss of security of what was familiar, the problems of growing
up are only compounded.
This is not for the homophobic
or those who refuse to accept that our children are their own
person and are not simply little lumps to be molded/perhaps browbeaten
into what parents insist they must be.