Indecision and dilemmas about sexuality in: A PASSING PHASE

by J. Paul Devlin

Verdict: A PASSING PHASE is a tender coming-of-age story about sexuality, identity, love and what defines a person's worth and moral value.

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A young man tries to figure out who he is in the process of undergoing therapy to make him heterosexual.

Nate is sure that his sexual interest in other guys is just a passing phase. But when he starts to realize it isn’t – that he might actually be gay – he faces not only rejection from his best friend and his deeply religious mother, but also his own internal conflict. Deciding that the best solution is to make himself heterosexual, he enters therapy and seeks out relationships with girls. But can he really change himself so drastically? And what will happen to him if he doesn’t?

A PASSING PHASE is a touching and affectionate look at a young man’s self-discovery, which despite its serious subject matter, manages moments of wry wit and laugh-out-loud humor as well. Nate is an entirely likable protagonist, and his fears and self-doubts are thoroughly understandable. Watching him grow into a mature adult with the ability to stand up for himself and who he is and wants to be is heartwarming. And while the situations he finds himself in have a decidedly humorous side, in many cases they also bring a deeper emotional tone to the book, and to Nate’s character. His encounters with the women he tries to date, each of whom has her own issues, and with his other friends, show him as the genuinely decent soul he is. The book could be improved by a bit more depth to his mother’s character – at one point, his father hints at some experiences in her past that might offer a bit more understanding of her personality and position, but as it stands, there are only hints. Also, Devlin fails to resist the temptation to name his gay conversion therapist Dr. Richard Hertz, which is admittedly amusing, but perhaps a bit childish, making him harder to take seriously.

A PASSING PHASE is a tender coming-of-age story about sexuality, identity, love and what defines a person’s worth and moral value.


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