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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Psychological disturbing and emotionally intense, The Rites of Passage by Jonathan A. Taylor is a coming-of-age story with LGBTQ hints, a novel that follows the story of Jamie Goldberg and his quest to understand and accept who he is. From the early years of his life in elementary school, Jamie had been deeply abused and hurt. He suspects he is homosexual, but he can’t come out in a community that is homophobic, to parents who are Jewish and political activists, and even to himself. But when Jamie is raped by a male prostitute at the age of sixteen, everything changes for him. Ashamed and deeply hurt, he takes flight and engages in art, literature, the theater, and music. But these can’t fill the void he experiences within. He begins to nurture fantasies that are quite different from reality. As with what happens in everyday life, these fantasies do crumble and Jamie is left helpless. Can he face the truth of who he truly is and in a world that will most likely judge him very harshly?
Jonathan A. Taylor explores the psyche of a homosexual teenage boy and the challenges that accompany his coming of age. Jamie is a character that is sophisticated and symbolizes the complex world and the painful realities that gays experience as they explore the question of identity and sexuality. The setting is during a period and within a community when and where gays enjoyed very little tolerance. It is heartbreaking to watch the young protagonist search through the confusing darkness of his soul, looking for a light that no one can give, seeking answers that are buried within his own heart. The Rites of Passage is beautifully told in a language that is as clear as it is enjoyable. It is a delightful read for fans of gay literature, a narrative done in a compassionate tone.