David Inside Out by Lee Bantle
Release Date: May 2009
In this coming-of-age novel, David Dahlgren struggles with coming to terms with being gay. Even escaping into track becomes difficult when he develops a crush on his teammate Sean. David desperately tries to do anything to stop the gay tag being added onto this name. He distances himself from his openly gay best friend, dates a girl, and buys “manly” magazines, but can’t shake his feelings for Sean. But then everything changes when Sean lets David know he has the same kind of desires. They begin meeting secretly and David finds himself falling dangerously hard for Sean. He dreams of coming out with Sean at his side for all the world to see, but will he be able to turn it into reality? Or will he have to learn to accept himself without Sean?
I have to admit that when I got this book I was expecting a nice GLBT love story, but that is definitely not what David Inside Out is. In fact, by the end of the book I completely hated his main love interest. I understand that Sean is probably dealing with many of the same emotions as David, but he came off as a jerk who was only using David for sex. I never felt like there was a real connection between them beyond physical acts. Even the camaraderie we see at track meets and study groups feels like it was just a way to get into David’s pants. I know this situation is very realistic, but it still really rubbed me the wrong way.
On the other hand, this is an excellent coming-out story. David’s emotions are raw and truthful as he tries to come to terms with being gay and accepting himself as he is. I believe that any GLBT person would be able to relate with the road he has to travel. No matter what age you are, coming out is never an easy thing. Thumbs up to Bantle for capturing those emotions nicely.
The only other thing I wanted to mention was the pacing. At times it feels a little disjointed as Bentle alternates between skipping ahead and spending time in the moment. It was almost like a bunch of smaller stories sewn together to form the big picture. While there were a couple of spots where I wished there had been more/less detail, overall, it works well for the novel.
While David Inside Out may not be my favorite GBLT book, it was an enjoyable read and one I will certainly add to my collection.