Burgoine, Nathan. “Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks”, Bold Strokes Books, 2018.
Finding His Place
Most of us seem to forget how difficult adolescence is once we leave it behind us. Here we meet seventeen-year-old Cole whose plan is to get through high school with good grades and without any trouble. He is at peace with his sexuality and he faces his life head-on. But then there was the day when after entering his school building, he realized that he is not in the building at all. In fact, he finds himself in the museum he had just been thinking about and must decide if there is something wrong with him or he has been teleported.
Cole knows himself and I think that it is this self-knowledge that makes him such a loveable character despite his awkwardness and nerdiness (sort of like the runt of the litter that you cannot help but love). In fact all of the characters in this young adult novel and well-defined characters that act and speak the way teenagers do.
We have had more than enough coming out young adult novels and the fact that this is not one of those makes this book a pleasure to read. We do not meet the characters as they are coming out but rather after they are out and at pace with themselves.
The kids here are lesbian, gay, asexual, transgender, bisexual, and pansexual characters but they are, above all else, kids whose sexualities are incidental to their lives. They are teens who to go to school, have crushes, are experiencing adolescence just like all other teens. But this is where reality stops and if you want to understand what I mean by that you will have to read the book. I found the plot to be secondary to the characters. There is a lot going on and, in fact, the plot is very busy; perhaps a bit too busy. I could have done without so much going on and instead spending time with my new teen friends. One other problem that I had is the prose and that is because the majority of my life has been spent in teaching writing courses but I will let you discover the writing for yourselves. I hate to laud a book for one reason and then tear it apart for another so I will simply say that is a fun read about a world we were all once a part of to which we can never return (except when others return for us).