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Fans of Koja's (The Blue Mirror) previous novels may be a bit disappointed with this tale of two high school students sharing the lead in a play called Talk. The book unfolds through their alternating points of view, with scenes from the play sprinkled in throughout. Kit Webster, who has never acted before, auditions on a dare from his best friend, Carma, and gets cast as Reed, the male lead. Reed interrogates Lola, a resistance fighter, played by seasoned thespian Lindsay Walsh. Lindsay begins to develop feelings for Kit, much to the dismay of her hulking ex-boyfriend, Blake Tudor. In the first chapter, readers learn that Kit is gay (a picture of Pablo Roy, "my secret love," hangs in his room). The most interesting aspect of the novel-Kit's struggle to approach Pablo and "come out" (though he has confided in Carma)-gets interrupted by Lindsay's narcissistic diatribes, as well as by scenes from the play, involving unorthodox strategies for questioning so-called "terrorists." The play's theme may be topical, but the book itself does not delve into the issues deeply enough for readers to get a handle on them. Subplots about Blake seeking revenge and the parents' roles in the controversy surrounding the play's themes further scatter the book's focus. In the end, readers get a glimpse of a variety of issues and characters, but never get the chance to examine them up close. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-Closeted high schooler Kit Webster hopes to take a vacation from reality by accepting one of the leads in a school play called Talk. Opposite Kit is popular drama queen Lindsay Walsh, who falls for him while they're onstage and dumps her meathead boyfriend. He blames Kit and homophobic epithets ensue. At the same time, the town turns upside down over the play's strong content, and soon nearly everyone is in an uproar. Told in Kit's and Lindsay's alternating voices, and with portions of the script inserted throughout, this novel breaks no new ground literarily or thematically. Readers will find the uncertain chemistry between the protagonists intriguing, but the vague controversy surrounding the play and free-speech rallies quickly become didactic and tiresome. Koja's stream-of-conscious style enhances the story's sense of realism, but the characterizations seem flat and polarized compared to other straight/gay romantic muddles like Alex Sanchez's So Hard to Say (2004) or Ellen Wittlinger's Hard Love (1999, both S & S). Still, reluctant readers may be tempted enough by the volume's slim size and simplistic themes to see it through to the end.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 8-11. Other people may be surprised when Kit, who has never acted before, wins the lead in the high-school play. But he isn't. He knows the truth: he's been acting all his life, pretending to be straight. Things become increasingly complicated for the closeted teen when his difficult costar, Lindsay, falls in love with him, and their play, Talk, a hard-hitting drama about political repression, excites controversy and parental attempts at censorship. The action of this ambitious novel moves along briskly when it alternates between Kit and Lindsay's points of view, but it becomes message-driven when pages from the play are periodically included to reinforce the theme: that the self is revealed no matter what. Fortunately, Kit's true self is interesting and sympathetic enough to hold the reader's attention through the occasional didactic patches, and the author's nicely realized denouement is both life- and self-affirming. --Michael Cart Copyright 2005 Booklist