Monday, November 19, 2012

Trevor: A Novella by James Lecesne

Trevor: A Novella by James Lecesne

Completion Date: November 6, 2012
Reason for Reading: Review Copy provided by Random House Canada.
Trevor is an exuberant, sociable, and witty thirteen year old. So how come, when he takes that nerve-wrecking turn toward his locker at school, does he feel scared and alone? Shunned by his friends, misunderstood by his parents, and harrassed at school for being different, Trevor goes from wondering what color glitter to choose for his Lady Gaga costume at Halloween, to wondering why some feelings "are so intense it makes you just want to lay down and die rather than go on feeling it," and making an attempt on his life. Trevor mixes humor and realism in an urgent look at what it is like to feel alienated from everything around you. And more importantly, what critical ties can step in at the most unlikely moment, to save you from despair, and give you reason to go on living.
Trevor is an update of the film version of the story, directed by Peggy Rajski, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 1994. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning youth. As the recent attention to youth suicides has received increased media attention, and Dan Savage's IT GETS BETTER campaign has gone viral around the world, the public is finally beginning to face hard facts. Thirty-three percent of suicides among teenagers involve LGBTQ youth, one-third of all LGBT kids report having attempted suicide, and nine out of ten report overt harassment at school. Trevor is an effort to make those kids feel loved and supported, so they will find the strength to go on living.
In my effort to stick with short reads until I can jump-start my reading, I pulled this novella down off my stacks. When I was reading about it I saw: 'A compelling young adult novella of love, lose, and Lady Gaga, for anyone who has ever been shunned for being different'. Sounds interesting, huh? I think it was my curiosity on how Lady Gaga fit into the mix that really lead to me requesting a copy. Then, the book arrived and I sort of didn't remember why I requested it. And, I am not reading anyway so it sort of sat on my shelf. The other day I was doing some rearranging and saw that this was the story that inspired the 'Trevor Project'. I didn't know what the 'Trevor Project' was. I decided that I had to find out.

Trevor is a 13-year-old boy who is not like the other kids at school. He is dramatic, loves Lady Gaga, and might be gay. That sets him apart from the other students at school. He tries to fit in despite it all and even has moments where he is truly happy, but then the bullying starts. They say above that 33 percent of teen suicides are LGBT kids. No wonder! If they are treated even slightly like the kid in this book I can imagine thinking that not returning to school would be a good idea. Of course this lead to me thinking back on my own school experiences. I remember kids being mean, but I don't really remember kids being bullied to this degree. Was I just not paying attention? Are kids meaner nowadays? I always sort of danced to my own drum so it is possible I was just not aware of it.

I really liked Trevor. Lecesne makes him fly off the page. He captures his personality so well and you really feel for him as things go from bad to worse. The book is only a novella, so there is not a lot of room for development. If Lecesne can make you care about his character in such few pages, you know he is right on track. And, Lecesne cares in general. The Trevor Project is a hotline for LGBT teens that need someone to talk to. And it isn't even always teens that fit into those categories. It is teens that are feeling down and on the verge of taking dreadful actions and need someone to talk to first. I would love to think that avenues like this have kept the suicide rate down just that much more since their creation.

I found their website if anyone is curious. It is based in the United States, but I imagine the chat programs and such could be international.  A portion of the proceeds from this book goes to support The Trevor Project - so a Christmas present twice over, right? I am all ready revising my Christmas list to buy some copies as gifts. Hopefully this post will make some of you want to, too. I know many of you have teens or pre-teens and you never know... They might need something like this at some point in their young lives.

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