Professional reviews of You’re in high school now

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NOTE: these reviews were of the first edition published in 2015. The second edition is substantially the same, so the reviews remain valid. The front cover was modified and formatting flaws were corrected, resulting in a reduction of ten pages even though the supplementary material added a new page.

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You're in High School Now

You’re in High School Now: Julian’s Sophomore Year,
Part One


Publisher: One Spirit Press Pages: 610 Price: (paperback) $15.99 ISBN: 9781893075771 Reviewed: June, 2015 Author Website: Visit »

This charming novel continues the story of Julian, from author Eldot’s series Julian’s Private Scrapbook. Set in the early 1960s, it follows Julian’s coming of age as a gay man through the first half of his first year in high school, as he makes new friends, learns about girls, and navigates this strange but exciting new world.

The title refers to the refrain his mother and her friend continually use when explaining to Julian why he must pay attention to his clothes now and other new “rules.” Julian’s only real concern is his mother’s interest that he take out a girl. Since he is only romantically interested in his scoutmaster Mark, that presents an obstacle. Fortunately, he attracts the attention of Rita, one of the school’s prettiest girls, who invites him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. Julian’s complete ignorance about Rita’s intentions during the dance and the car ride afterwards (as well as his description to his mother later) provides some of the novel’s funniest scenes.

Julian is certainly experienced when it comes to sex, however. He continues the explorations he discovered at scout camp the previous summer, both as an initiate in a secret society of like-minded boys, as well as with Randall, recently moved from Washington. Randall, a victim of bullying at his previous school, is instantly drawn to Julian when he sees him, and they form an immediate, deep friendship. Julian introduces Randall to his scouting troop and takes an interest in his photography, and Randall is deeply impressed by Julian’s drawing skills. The two bring out the best in each other.

While not every reader will appreciate the sex scenes, they are sensitively drawn and important to the story. The only complaint this reader has is waiting for Part 2, where it seems the situation will become complicated. Well-written, with engaging, likable characters, this book skillfully presents the challenges and pleasures boys who love men face in growing up.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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Foreword Reviews

You’re in High School Now

Julian’s Sophomore Year, Part 1

You're in high school now book cover Reviewed by Amanda Silva
July 23, 2015

This YA romantic comedy reflects traditional coming-of-age themes, further complicated by issues of sexuality and identity.

Eldot’s romantic comedy You’re in High School Now follows Julian, a young gay man in who is getting to know himself while creating his place in the world. This particular world is high school in 1962, a microcosm fraught with prizes and pitfalls, where bullies abound and fitting in is a constant quest. This narrative reflects traditional coming-of-age themes, further complicated by issues of sexuality and identity.

These are sensitive topics for many readers, regardless of age, but Eldot writes with an urgency to connect with those young adult readers for whom these issues might be especially difficult. This story is an extension of Eldot’s earlier series, the Julian’s Private Scrapbook novels, but can be read in isolation. Readers should be aware it contains sexual content and adult themes layered throughout.

Julian is a sympathetic character, thoughtful and comical in his observations about himself and those around him. His internal struggles and interactions with his peers will likely connect with young readers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Self-acceptance rings as a universal desire and pursuit throughout these pages.

Although the writing is clear, the structure is not. While it is admirable for an author to experiment with a new writing style, the clarity of the work can sometimes be compromised. Eldot eventually explains—but not until the end of the book—that the narrative intentionally combines first- and third-person points of view as a means of freeing both writer and reader from “cumbersome conventions” concerning paragraph structure and punctuation. Eldot is a teacher with more than thirty years of experience; his frustration, or perhaps boredom, with convention is understandable. However, the resulting lack of clarity ultimately detracts from his work.

And this is important work. At the very outset, Eldot writes: “The grand social purpose that motivated the Julian’s Private Scrapbook series lurks in the background, unsolved as always: social change is never as rapid as one would like. There are still bullies … So it’s worth the effort to add a positive chapter or two.”

Eldot’s message is, indeed, as important as ever. When it comes to sharing that message through mainstream media, however, revisions in defense of convention and organization would bring these already bright and positive chapters to greater light.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have his/her book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Review make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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You're in High School Now by Eldot

You're in High School Now

Julian's Sophomore Year, Part 1


The life and times of an adventurous, gay high school sophomore.

In the latest installment featuring Julian, the affable lead in the Julian’s Private Scrapbook YA series, author Eldot (The Champions: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, 2013, etc.) re-creates the autumn of 1962 as Julian embarks upon another school year full of books and boys at Jackson High School. Amid a backdrop of artistic inclinations and first-day jitters, Julian’s romantic feelings for Mark, his Scoutmaster at Camp Walker over the past summer, continue to simmer, with their exploratory fondling lingering in his memory. But his concerned mother, Francine, encourages him to show an interest in girls. When Rita, an attractive, mischievous schoolmate, asks Julian, aka “the blond masterpiece,” to the Sadie Hawkins dance, the obvious awkward clashing of orientations ensues. Humor is one of Eldot’s strong suits; he has an impressive capacity for penning farcical, innocently disastrous moments. He also builds a good supporting cast, like Mark, who is in a heterosexual marriage of convenience after his longtime partner died seven years prior; and Randall, a gay virgin and recent arrival to Jackson High. Intimate shenanigans occur at a secret society campout for randy boys, but the author takes care to handle these moments with restraint. Structurally, however, Eldot fumbles a bit. He shifts perspective awkwardly and adds too many disclaimers, style notes, and end matter that are meant to illuminate Julian but result in informational overload. Still, Eldot successfully taps into the experiences of gay youth with a believable blend of engaging characterization, humor, pathos, back story, and teenage angst.

Fun, frolicsome series with good humor and a message of unity and equality; new readers may want to start at the beginning.      

Pub Date:  July 6th, 2015
ISBN:  978-1-893075-77-1
Page count:  626pp
Publisher:  Q Press
Review Posted:
Program:  Kirkus Indie

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