The Side Door
by Jan Donley
Spinsters Ink

"Starting high school makes you feel kind of lost, and finding that door—well—it made me feel kind of found. If that makes any sense."

Jan Donley's The Side Door is more than a truthful portrait of young gay teenagers and what they face. It is also a heart-felt story of a young girl trying to connect with her family while attempting to remain honest to herself in the process. Mel Bird and her best friend, Frank, are starting their Freshman year of high school at Drift High and embarking on the world and all it has to offer, both nurturing and detrimental. Running the gamut from suicide and hate crimes to gay youth support groups and discovering first love, The Side Door touches every aspect of what it is to be a young and gay in today's world, but it also speaks directly to the human heart as Donley's treatment of her characters is sincere and warm. The author's prose is rhythmic and enchanting, at times beguiling, but it is always authentic and grounded in reality.

Donley's book is replete with themes of identity and self-perception as Mel and Frank are obsessed with psychological triangle posed by Superman, his alter-ego Clark Kent, and Lois Lane. Secrets and cover-ups abound, Donley’s characters who do not accept their self-redeeming truths fail to become self-realized, and only by facing and candidly dealing with their fears can these individuals begin their quests to find their particular brand of happiness.

A poignant and touching read that will engage and entertain everyone from teenagers to their grandparents alike, The Side Door is a book that all readers can enjoy and each take away something that is personal and exclusive for themselves.

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