Keane, Jon Eliot. “Option Four”, Beaten Track, 2017.
Seventeen-year-old Donn Carhart wants to come out. But it is 1997 and we have still not reached the freedom we have today. He knows that are four options— “reject, tolerate, accept, or they’ll say “me too!” Donn’s parents do not like gay people, and Donn doesn’t know any other gay kids. But then he meets Alex, an openly gay transfer student, and after learning a little bit about gay history in the United States, Donn starts the Acceptance Project club at school. The club’s purpose is to address discrimination, and it draws a lot of student members, including Thad, the most popular guy in his class and the object of Don’s lust.
When Donn does come out, a group of parents try to shut down the group as a “gay club” and a danger to their children and the community. With all this pressure, Donn has decisions to make.
What an amazing character there is in Donn. He is personality and sweetness personified. It was not easy for him—he had to deal with his parents and family secrets, coming-out, the club and the two guys in his life, Alex and Thad. We watch him as he gains confidence and we see his as even more mature than his parents. I love that this is written as a journal thus almost making us feel like we are reading someone else’s thoughts.
There are so many sweet, funny, and charming moments in the story but there is also heartbreak and serious issues. The students, themselves, shed light on discrimination and homophobia through the Acceptance Project and that was very brave to do back then. A book like this is a blessing for young people dealing with their sexuality.