Title: Thinking Straight
Author: Robin Reardon
Publisher: Kensington Pub
Available: Amazon.com and Amazon.ca
Thinking Straight is a novel about Taylor Adams, a gay teenager, who is sent to Straight to God, a residential Christian facility, to help him become straight. The novel weaves together elements of mystery, romance, suspense, and spirituality.
Taylor and his boyfriend Will remain very committed to each other during the time Taylor is at Straight to God. Will manages to sneak notes to Taylor, and even sneaks into the facility, so the two can be together.
Taylor is uncertain of who he can trust. He carefully discerns which staff members and young clients he can trust. Eventually, Taylor becomes part of an underground, secret group at Straight to God, who believes God created gays.
The spiritual dynamic places those who believe God is loving against those who believe God is harsh, judgmental, and condemning. Emmett Strickland, the director of Straight to God, feels it is better for gay people to kill themselves than to have a gay life style. He thinks God might save gay people, if they die before they commit themselves to a gay life style. He appears to be unconcerned by the number of gay teens who committed suicide at the treatment facility.
The people who run Straight to God treat the gay clients as if they are confused. The irony is that some of the youth in Straight to God have a better understand Godís love and the Bible than those who run the institution. Taylor has no problem reconciling his Christian faith and his sexuality. He knows God loves him.
Straight to Godís sexual sins are not the homosexuality of its clients. The institutionís sexual sins are committed by the chaplain who sexually preys on weak and vulnerable clients, and attempts of staff to make gay clients become straight.
Thinking Straight ends with the same mystery that was present through the entire book. We are left wondering how Taylor will be able to help his new roommate overcome his self-hate, and come to accept his sexuality.
The book is a compelling, but not always an easy read. While reading the book, one is reminded of the many abuses of organized religion against the queer community. Much hatred and violence against the queer community has been committed in the name of God. Parts of the book remind readers of religious abuses and hatred.
This novel could be of interest to those who have struggled to reconcile their sexuality and faith. Through the characters, we hear arguments that show Godís deep love and acceptance of gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals.