David Inside Out by Lee Bantle
Release Date: September 13th 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company (BYR)
David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he's a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has "inappropriate" urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.
In this thoughtful yet searing coming-of-age novel, David Inside Out, Lee Bantle offers a raw, honest, and incredibly compelling account of a teenager who learns to accept himself for who he is.
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.