Parents' Guide to

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story

By Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Gay teen's coming out becomes a musical in fun, campy novel.

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The opening number of the show (in which Tiny declares he's "happily G-A-Y") makes it explicitly clear that readers who are uncomfortable with homosexuality should stop reading. In fact, Tiny's stage directions following the song state, "If anyone is going to object to this musical, they will have left the theater at this point." But those with an open mind will find a heartwarming, clever, and universal story about the growing pains of puberty and the endless search for love and meaning. There are goofy puns and silly rhymes; a few of the pop-culture jokes don't land; and the story and message are straightforward almost to the point of being too blatant. But these minor shortcomings are overwhelmingly obscured by the sheer boldness and positivity of the script. The dialogue is a perfect facsimile of stereotypical musical theater, and the use of chorus members, supporting characters, and even the ghost of Oscar Wilde give the story a dynamism that would be ideal for the stage.

Although there's no music (yet), readers can imagine the show-stopping choreography and catchy melodies for themselves, adding an element of audience participation. Hold Me Closer is seemingly written for gay teens, but it's equally appealing to anyone interested in the challenges of young adulthood and self-acceptance.

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