Love Drugged by James Klise
Published September 1st 2010 by Flux
From the Publisher:
If you could change who you are, would you? Should you?
Fifteen-year-old Jamie Bates has a simple strategy for surviving high school: fit in, keep a low profile, and above all, protect his biggest secret-he's gay. But when a classmate discovers the truth, a terrified Jamie does all he can to change who he is. At first, it's easy. Everyone notices when he starts hanging out with Celia Gamez, the richest and most beautiful girl in school. And when he steals an experimental new drug that's supposed to "cure" his attraction to guys, Jamie thinks he's finally going to have a "normal" life.
But as the drug's side effects worsen and his relationship with Celia heats up, Jamie begins to realize that lying and using could shatter the fragile world of deception that he's created-and hurt the people closest to him.
Told with equal doses of humor and suspense, Love Drugged explores the consequences of a life constructed almost entirely of lies . . . especially the lies we tell ourselves.
I think the synopsis is an excellent question and really is the heart of this story. If you could change who you are, would you? For 15 yo Jamie, it was a resounding yes. He was not comfortable with his attraction to other boys. He certainly didn't welcome the dreams of his hot classmate Ivan. Jamie wanted to fit in; be normal. He saw enough movies to know that stories of people who came out of the closet didn't always have a happy ending. He starts to explore his homosexual feelings by surfing chat rooms. Jamie can be *more* honest while he hides behind his avatar and pen name. This is his little secret; his safe haven. I definitely think this is a 'testing the waters' situation that many gay teens explore. When he meets a young girl, Celia, he thinks this is his best shot at being normal. She's beautiful, smart, funny, and takes a liking to Jamie. Jamie tries his best to reciprocate feelings - he wants their relationship to be so much more. His mind is there, but his body doesn't cooperate. Celia's father is a drug researcher, and after he tells Jamie that he has invented a drug to lessen homosexual feelings, Jamie thinks it is his first class ticket on the Straight Train.
Jamie goes to great extremes to get his hands on those pills that will make him un-gay*ish. He steals the little blue pills (ironic they are blue?) from Celia's father, and tries to convince himself that he is a heterosexual teenager - like everyone else. Everything goes according to plan until Celia's fondness for Jamie heats up - way up (she needs to take a cold shower). Even though Jamie feels his attraction toward men waiver, his desires for Celia border friend and friend with benefits. To make matters worse, Jamie begins to feel negative side effects from the medication. A showdown between Jamie and Celia's father is the breaking point for Jamie. Will he continue to lie and dismiss his feelings or honor himself? What will become of Celia and Jamie's relationship?
It was really refreshing to a read a book about a confused teenage boy that didn't involve a vampire or werewolf! It was also refreshing to see misconceptions about being gay explored. There are a lot of fallacies about homosexuals. One of them is that they have all of their feelings worked out. Another one (and Oprah is so guilty of this), is that you know your gay from the age of 5 and that's it; you're gay, no questions asked. There is no gay cookie cutter or mold. Everyone has a different story; gay or not.
If you put aside the somewhat implausible drug and unlikely "arrangement" between Jamie and Celia's father, this book is a gateway to conversations, and therefore...Jame Klise's's job is done. Hopefully teens and parents will look to Love Drugged as a resource. Teens can identify with Jamie's uncertainty and his willingness to put his feelings aside to please others. Parents may begin to understand that being gay isn't always so cut and dry. Homosexuality is an easy issue to ignore -you stay in that corner, and I will stay in mine. Life doesn't work that way. Conversations to better understand each other is what is important. Jamie's story should be a welcome addition to a middle school and high school library.
4 out of 5 stars
From James Klise:
Question: WHY does Jamie enter into this romantic relationship with Celia?
Answer: Because he is confused and afraid. It’s normal for ANY teenager to sometimes feel confused or afraid - and especially if you’re a teen who is gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgendered. This was certainly true back in the 1980s, when I was in high school. It’s still true now.
I wanted to write a story that could explore those feelings in a way that was both meaningful and entertaining. That was my goal for Love Drugged.
You can visit James HERE
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