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Beautifully written coming-of-age story, set primarily in New Orleans. High school graduate leaves rural Mississippi to life with his aunt in New Orleans. There, he meets another sweet 19-year-old boy and faces the choices confronting his first real love.
A Time Before Me
Reviewed by for Reader Views (1/07)
Mason is a gay teen growing up in rural Mississippi . Not only does he have to deal with all of the normal issues that teens deal with, like deciding his future, but he also has to deal with his secret of being gay. Neither the town, nor his family, is receptive to people with alternative lifestyles. Rather than accept a scholarship to his local college or work with his father in a factory, Mason wants to spread his wings and fly. His best friend and lifelong crush, Billy, has run away to live in New York City. Billy is also gay, but he and Mason never talked about this aspect of their lives. Mason meets an out of town visitor that shows him where the secret gay night life is. He gets to meet other people like himself. It is a relief to be able to be out in the open, even if it is only with this group.
After a summer visit to his Aunt Savannah, who runs a drag queen cabaret in New Orleans, Mason decides that he wants to move there. His aunt really understands him, and in New Orleans, Mason is surrounded by people who accept him for who he is. He meets Joey, who works for his aunt. Joey is very attractive and sweet. Mason feels drawn to Joey and begins to forget about his crush on Billy. Except for a kiss with Billy, Mason has not been with anyone. Joey encourages him not to rush into anything with anyone. New Orleans has a lot of wild stuff going on and Mason admits that he is not ready for that. As he and Joey get closer, his feelings for him deepen.
Out of the blue, Mason gets a call from Billy who is going to be in New Orleans with his current boyfriend. Mason begins to feel tugged away from Joey. Joey can sense this and is hurt. Mason has to figure out what he really wants and he needs to take a good look at what his relationship with Billy really was.
I really enjoyed reading “A Time Before Me.” My heart goes out to Mason’s character, because throughout the entire story, he was always trying to do what was right. He has a strong sense of values and did not let himself get seduced into the wild New Orleans lifestyle. He is a young man that wants to be loved. He just needs to decide who the best man is for him. It is pretty obvious to the reader, but for him, he has to decide where to follow his heart.
I highly recommend this book. I think that it is perfect for young adult readers that are learning how to deal with issues of their sexuality and for people that care about them. In addition to be an excellent story, Mason’s story also taught me a lot about how hard it is for a gay youth to fit in and be accepted for who he is. Being a teen is so hard, and being a teen with a secret is so much harder.