Different for Boys
Patrick Ness & Tea Bendix
“Anthony “Ant” Stevenson isn’t sure when he stopped being a virgin. Or even if he has. The rules aren’t always very clear when it comes to boys who like boys. In fact, relationships of all kinds feel complicated, even with Ant’s oldest friends. There’s Charlie, who’s both virulently homophobic and in a secret physical relationship with Ant. Then there’s drama kid Jack, who may be gay and has become the target of Charlie’s rage. And, of course, there’s big, beautiful Freddie, who wants Ant to ditch soccer, Charlie’s sport, and try out for the rugby team instead.”
Built on the idea that being a virgin is about having had sex between a boy and a girl, this short story attempts to prove that it’s different for boys who have sex with boys. Unforunately, that’s not what I took away from it. All I saw was a boy refusing to admit he was gay, one poor kid who is clearly gay, one (potential) Ally and one homophobic but horny boy.
Storyline? Boy possibly has sex, but it doesn’t count as sex if it’s ‘just physical’. Kissing could be sex. This uses outdated language and outdated ideas. At least in Australia, I’d think the topic of being a virgin is uninteresting at this point. As a Queer person, I can’t say that losing my virginity was something even worth talking about – I certainly didn’t think about it! Is Ness trying to comment on the statement ‘boys will be boys’?
I don’t get it. This is like a picturebook for teenagers. All the interesting language (read: foul swearing) has been blackboxed out, and it took me maybe 10 minutes tops to read it. Would I want to be caught in public reading it? Probably not. Can I think of someone to gift it to? No. I finished reading it, but only because it was so short. 1 star from me.
Walker Books Australia | 1 March 2023 | AU$24.99 | hardback