Surviving Elite High – John H. Ames (Imperial Pride)




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Okay, I’m going to admit something here that some people may
not like. I’m not a big fan of the “young adult,” or “coming of age” novels.
It’s not because I don’t think they have a place in publishing, its just that
the ones I’ve read have been so full of clichés and stereotypes that I figured
why should I bother to read it, not to mention the plots and outcomes were
always the same. Boy, or girl grows up feeling different. Boy, or girl falls in
love, a few rough patches till they are accepted and then everyone lives
happily ever after. Okay, so I’m exaggerating to make my point, but hopefully
the point has been made.

But wouldn’t you know it, I found myself asking to read,
Surviving Elite High. Why, you might ask? That’s a good question and one I have
no answer for. All I can tell you is that this short, 143 page book has given
me hope for the queer coming of age genre. John Ames has done in his first
published work, what others have not been able to do after their second, or
third book, and that is to KEEP THIS READER TURNING THE PAGES! After all,
that’s what it’s all about. You need to develop believable characters, put them
in believable situations (and here believable does not mean clichéd), and to
keep those characters doing surprising and interesting things.

Sure, the main characters have the same issues as most
“coming of age” stories, but Ames, doesn’t try to fit them into narrow and
often artificial boxes. He allows them to breathe, to develop, and to become
characters that the reader wants to cheer for, and in the case of Surviving
Elite High, you have a character that is loathsome, hateful, and violently
disturbed, but Ames presents this character in such a way that you actually
begin to feel sorry for the character. That is the power of the written word
and John Ames has found it.

Do yourself a favor. Pick up, “Surviving Elite High.” It’s a
quick read that will keep you entertained, and like me, will give you hope for what
young adult books can actually accomplish.

Reviewed by William Holden

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