A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book asks readers to consider whether a person can be both Christian and gay. There are some anti-gay slurs, and openly gay Manuel receives a threat; later, he is beaten severely. Paul makes out with his girlfriend and looks at both straight porn and gay porn to test his feelings. Paul and Manuel hold hands at the movies and later dance at a school dance.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Paul is a Christian teen growing up in a small Texas town. He has a longtime girlfriend -- but he also has homosexual feelings, feelings he tries hard to change. This gets more difficult to do when openly gay Manuel transfers to his school. Not only is Paul attracted to Manuel, he also is challenged by the new boy's ideas about Christianity -- especially his belief that it's OK to be both gay and Christian.
Is it any good?
The characters' back-and-forth analysis of Bible passages occasionally grows a bit tedious, but readers will be impressed with the amount of research Sanchez has done for his book. Not only does the author provide some challenging interpretations of the Bible, he also gives his readers information about the controversial ex-gay movement and about the rights of students to start their own gay-straight alliances at school.
THE GOD BOX tends to be a bit more issue-oriented than character-oriented (once openly gay Manuel comes to school, it seems like sexuality is all anyone can talk about). Even so, readers will sympathize with confused Paul, who wants to do the right thing, if only he can figure out what that is. They will also appreciate his well-drawn family, which includes a wacky and very tolerant grandmother and a conservative father who has a surprising -- and moving -- moment of bravery. This book obviously takes a side in the central argument, but even readers who disagree with Paul's conclusions will find plenty to ponder.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about religion and sexuality. How do you feel about the topics addressed in the book? What do you think of that book's conclusions?
In recent years there have been a lot more books featuring gay characters. Is the same true for other forms of media, like TV, movies, or video games? What do you think of this trend? What sort of impact does it have on our culture?
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