A Boy's Own Story

by Edmund White

Paperback, 1983




Plume (1983), 224 pages


At home, in school, and on the streets, a homosexual teenager moves through comic sexual experiments, isolation, fear, and exciting expectations toward an escape from childhood and a firm sense of self.

User reviews

LibraryThing member amerynth
"A Boy's Own Story" is the first in Edmund White's autobiographical trilogy about growing up gay in 1950's America. He struggles with his homosexuality and with a deep longing to belong that seemingly is never fulfilled.

White is a terrific writer in terms of use of language... his descriptions are beautiful without being overwrought. His pacing and plot is more difficult to like... the story is very fragmented and jumps around to different time periods in his youth.

Overall, I found the book to be an interesting coming of age story.
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LibraryThing member Cirencester
'The boy's self-portrait shines with authenticity, he is an extraordinary but plausible mixture of sweetness and deviousness ...Add to this the fact that White's prose is marvellously sensual while his eye is sharply satiric and you have something of the flavour of an outstanding text which should appeal to a wide audience.The book goes beyond its homosexual theme to say something about the whole process of growing up' Robert Nye, Guardian… (more)
LibraryThing member ablueidol
A lyrical story of growing up and having to deal with this and being gay.
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
White's autobiographical novel of growing up with a sense of otherness.
LibraryThing member Kiddboyblue
I find myself drawn to coming of age stories, especially well written ones, such as "A Boys Own Story," for many reasons. One of which is a one sided view of the characters that make up this one individuals story.
What White does so well is vividly paint these essential background characters such as the father, or his mother and eventually teachers and friends. It is through his interactions and observances of them, that we in turn get to know and understand him.
To me, this is how real life works, and yet is so rarely captured well in novels.
The novel is definitely graphic at times, which for me felt raw and correct for the story being told, but understandably unnerving to some.
I personally saw a lot of myself in the protagonist. His perpetual need to please everyone, his fear and yet attraction to authority figures, and his fluid morphing of character are all traits that I have felt to some degree, and so endeared me to the novel on a personal level.
Certainly this is not every gay man's coming of age, but still a powerful and very honest look at some universal emotions and trials gay men go through while coming to terms with who they are.
Overall a solid novel with a lot of depth and substance. I'm excited to continue on to the rest of the trilogy.
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LibraryThing member starbox
"What I wanted was to be loved by men and love them back but not to be a homosexual"
By sally tarbox on 3 June 2018
Format: Paperback
Very readable and vivid account of the author's teens, growing up gay when such things were not discussed. His efforts to date a girl, to tell himself he's just going through a phase, while spending his days yearning for men.
Yet while homosexuality is not openly mentioned, it's going on all around him, from a neighbour's young son to his classmates and teachers... He dabbles in religion and psychoanalysis; he contends with a rather dysunctional broken family.
I thought his descriptions of his insecure mother were fabulous:
-"You're handsome and intelligent."
-"Handsome! With these big nostrils?"
-"Oh, that's just your sister. She's so frustrated she has to pick on you. There's nothing wrong with your nostrils. At least I don't see anything wrong. Of course, I know you too well. If you like, we could consult a nose doctor". A long pause. "Nostrils...Do people generally dwell on them? I mean, do people think about them a lot?" Smal high voice: "Are mine okay?"
A hopeless silence.

White's evocation of adolescence, the efforts to fit in, be popular will strike a note with readers whatever their gender or sexual orientation.
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LibraryThing member RoxieT
Well...can't say this was a great book, and honestly, it was rather difficult to get through. That being said, I can definitely see how this book broke from the mold in its time. However, I think there are far better books out there about coming of age than this. Still I will give his next few books a go to see if things improve.… (more)
LibraryThing member booklover3258
I made it to page 16 and I couldn't read anymore. It is truly a personal thing for me than anything. It was not my type of book I would normally read but I gave it a shot. After 15 pages, I had to stop.


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