Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas
Martha Sullivan LOVES theater. It’s her passion. So when her parents decide to send her to a girls-only Catholic high school, Martha’s only condolence is its amazing theater program, which is staging Into The Woods (with BOYS!). Her best friend for the last four years, Jimmy, is attending the local public school. He’s making new friends and deciding who he wants to be – even finally coming out of the closet! – all while Martha is just trying to keep her head above water with her parents new ‘teenager rules’. Everything changes when Jimmy meets Derek, and Martha meets Felix. Will their friendship survive their relationships?
I had never heard of Linas Alsenas before I picked up Beyond Clueless. Actually, I picked it up because it had the word clueless in the title and I was kind of hoping it was a sequel to the fantastic 1995 film (because it’s based on a play and this book has little theater masks on the spine), but I was wrong. By the time I had read the dust-jacket though, I was intrigued and I had to read it. Apparently, Alsenas has written some very well-known LGBTQA books, so this is simply another to be added to the list! I have to say, I really liked how everything was presented. I often avoid certain themes in books because authors spend exorbitant amounts of time pounding them into the reader. Romantic preference and body type are, sadly, themes that fall into this hole fairly regularly. While this book definitely used the characters’ romantic preferences as a central theme, it didn’t allow them to overpower all of the other themes and ideas that were crucial to the story line. (round of applause for that!)
Although at one point there are a bunch of characters introduced rather vaguely and all at once, Alsenas does a phenomenal job in developing them each into unique people who remain easily identifiable throughout the story. I was worried that with a large cast of characters (They’re putting on a play, so besides the main friends there’s also a whole cast of people seen regularly) I would lose track of the story and who people were, but with the good character development, I had no trouble. This story is richly woven with confusion and misdirection of the kind found in a Shakespeare play, which made it all the more entertaining when the characters stumbled across a new piece of information. Despite its shortness in length, Alsenas’ book is so full of story that it took me much longer to read than I originally thought. I would definitely recommend it to teen readers, as well as anyone who enjoys a good high school storyline.
HHC Rating: 4 Stars