Molly's Reviews

Bleeding HeartsBleeding Hearts
Josh Aterovis
Renaissance 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 then sobeit.

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 adult world.

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.

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2005 by Molly Martin