The Less-Dead by April Lurie

I’ve been anticipating this book for quite some time now! I read April Lurie’s book, The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine a couple of years ago and fell in love with it right away. I thought it captured the male adolescent experience so well. That she did such a great job of exploring the feelings that go along with that age…the confusion, the mix of emotions, the friendships, everything. Well, she’s done it again but has added so much more with her latest book, The Less-Dead.

With The Less-Dead, Lurie tackles some big topics. Mainly, homosexuality and the church. The book opens with a teenage boy found dead in the woods just outside of Austin, Texas….a cross carved into his chest. There’s a serial killer in the Austin area who is killing gay teen males in the Austin area. Noah and his friend Carson are trying to get a band together while going to an alternative school after getting kicked out of their high school for eating hash jelly. Noah also happens to be the son of “The Bible Guy”, a radio talk show host who preaches to the masses answering callers questions. Life hasn’t been the same at Noah’s house since a year ago when a man that Noah believed to be the serial killer called in asking Noah’s father about his thoughts on homosexuality. While Noah’s father takes an evangelical stance on it, Noah does not…he believes in accepting everyone for who he/she is.

Enter Will. Noah meets Will one day while he is playing guitar outside of the UT campus and soon learns that Will is gay. The two form a connection immediately and while for Noah, it can only be a friendship, Will has some feelings for Noah. As the two become close friends, all sorts of questions face Noah, Noah’s family, and the world around him is rocked.

This book is so many different things. But if it’s one thing, it’s GOOD. It’s a YA book, it’s a coming of age story. It’s an LGBT story. It’s a murder mystery. I guess you could maybe even stretch it into a Christian fic story, though some may argue it being the opposite. But I guess here’s where I enjoyed it so much…where it held so much meaning to me. Noah is part of an evangelical Christian family and part of an evangelical church. Lurie expertly puts the characters into a position where the church is forced to examine their views on homosexuality. And it truly points out that so often the church forgets that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, are PEOPLE!! Not their sexuality, but people. I want to make a point here that I am not attacking any religion here, but I am challenging that belief. Lurie does too. At the back of the book she takes on every bible passage that Christians throw at the LGBT community.

I absolutely loved Noah. So damn much. What an amazing character he was. I wish more people were like him. Not teens, people. Because I think that today’s teens are becoming more open minded. I think that humanity as a whole can still afford to become more open minded though. More accepting. Noah has moments where he feels uncomfortable around Will because of Will’s attraction to him..and that is a natural feeling. But he admits that feeling, speaks it out loud and moves on. And then there’s a moment that is so heartbreakingly sad that you just have to read it. But he’s a good guy. He fights for what’s right no matter what it is.

Once again, Ms. Lurie, you’ve done such an amazing job and you have a fan for life here. I just can’t wait to see what comes next when the pen meets the paper.

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8 Responses

  1. This sounds like a highly discussable book. Awesome review!

  2. I know I already told you that I already checked our library website for this one…but after reading your review I may have to go buy it, because I’m not sure if I can wait for the person who has it checked out to return it! This is an awesome review, Chris, of what sounds like a really fantastic book!

  3. Great review Chris, this one sounds amazing and a definite addition to the TBR pile. (of course I should really read my copy of Dylan first as well…)

  4. Wow this sounds awesome!

  5. I definitely want to read this…you know, there are some of us who are still somewhat evangelical (though I identify more with the term post-evangelical) and who long for change in the way the church views homosexuality. So I’m glad to see there’s a book that discusses these issues and presents alternative interpretations of the Biblical text. 😉

  6. Andi, It definitely is!! There’s lots to discuss here. I really really enjoyed this one. And it’s the first book I read on my Nook!

    Debi, You really should buy this one :p It’s a definite keeper and it’s one that I think that Annie would really enjoy after you’re finished with it…and if Gray continues to like reading, he may enjoy it one day too! It’s one of those books that is good for whole families I think.

    Darren, Yes, yes yes! You definitely need to read Dylan. I thought you had already! Go. Read. It. Now. That’s an order :p

    Amanda, It was awesome!! I loved it so much. I think you’d really enjoy this one!

    Amy, I so think you would enjoy this one Amy! And I hope that my review didn’t make it sound like it paints the church in a bad light because it doesn’t. It does show how certain stances can be destructive, but there are those characters in this book who are very religious yet still fight for change in the way the church views homosexuality. I really liked that aspect of the book. And I loved Lurie’s thoughts, her “author’s note” at the end of the book!

  7. Wow, this sounds really good! Great review, Chris!

  8. I really want to read more by April Lurie. I am glad this was so good!

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