Book Review: A Question of Manhood by Robin Reardon

This was not the Robin Reardon I am used to reading. Most of Robin’s books are set in the here-and-now. This is set in 1972, and 1972 was a very different time for gay guys. Further, most of Robin’s books are from the point of view of a gay guy. Not this time though.

Paul Landon is sixteen, and his older brother Chris is fighting in Vietnam. During a Thanksgiving furlough, Chris comes home, and just before he leaves, comes out to Paul. Paul is stunned by the news, news he can’t share with his parents. Paul can’t bring himself to say a proper goodbye when Chris ships out again. And Chris doesn’t make it back. He is killed in action, and Paul crumbles under not only the secret his brother was gay but the guilt at how they parted.

That summer, Paul has no choice but to confront what being gay is all about. While working for his dad at the family pet supply store, Paul meets co-worker JJ O’Neil, clearly gay. When JJ comes out to Paul, Paul is conflicted on what everything really means.

In classic Robin Reardon style, we are pulled into the adolescent mind. We watch Paul face his demons: his relationship with his father, his feelings of inadequacy next to his brother, his caving into peer pressure and how that results in some homophobic bullying. The questions he is asking himself get answered from the most unlikely of sources: JJ. In watching JJ’s self-assurance, strength, and smarts, Paul faces up to not only what it meant for Chris to be gay, but also what it means for himself to be a man.

Submitted By: Rob B. Follow him on Twitter @robbrowatzke

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  • djb

    As an avid reader of all things fiction, I really have enjoyed these reviews. If you want to talk about books, I could spend hours. It’s probably my number one passion in life, besides those I love of course.

  • Rob

    That’s awesome to hear! Always great connecting with a fellow reader!