"Wide Awake" by David Levithan
David Levithan writes books for young adults, and this one is no exception. I believe it was first published in 2006.
Duncan, a gay Jewish high school student, and his boyfriend Jimmy inhabit a future US, wherein another gay Jewish male has just been elected President. They rejoice at this giant step forward for LGBTs everywhere, even though the election is clouded by the kind of political maneuvering that denied Gore the Presidency back in 2000.
So alright, I realize that I'm no longer a young adult, and I furthermore realize that this book wasn't written for people like me. I am 36 years old, straight, and agnostic. Even so, I believe in the kind of tolerance that this book preaches (and yes, it does preach), so I can see the good that this book might do for many younger people.
My only real problem with this book, aside from the fact that the characters are somewhat one-dimensional, is the presence of what I will call "implausibilities." A few of these implausibilities are:
1. The idea that any government can be based upon the principles of kindness and compassion. I'm sorry, but that idea just doesn't work for me. Yes, people can be based upon the principles of kindness and compassion, but any government so founded would obviate itself very quickly. Government is based upon the rule of law, and this law, in ideal circumstances, reflects the will of a kind and compassionate people.
2. The idea of a "non-mall" where people (teenagers) make "non-purchases," wherein they go through the ritual of shopping only to make a donation at the point of purchase. I'm sorry, but why would anyone bother?
3. The idea that any group of teenagers, only a generation removed from the present, would take such an interest in the democratic process and its relation to American history. Keep in mind that we're talking about kids the same age as my older daughter here. Can you really see them campaigning for someone they can't even vote for? Can you really see a gay Jewish teenager viewing the Boston Tea Party as a life-affirming event? I sure can't!
This said, this book wasn't written for an old guy like me. Maybe many younger people would find it interesting, and maybe it would get them more involved in their own government. I can't say. I can say, however, that this book isn't very good.