The Continuing Journals of Will Barnett
John R. Selig
Will Barnett’s father has recently died, leaving Will in charge of the Barnett family farm in rural New Mexico at the tender age of eighteen. Just two days before the death, the Barnetts took in Lance Surfett, who is seventeen and has run away from home after being severely beaten by his stepfather.
This is the continuation of the story begun in the author’s previous book, Uncle Sean. Will and Lance soon fall deeply in love while attending school, running the Barnett family farm, and supporting Will’s mother and sisters as well as themselves. Classmates and adults soon surmise that Will and Lance have become lovers and make their lives hellish.
Lance is tormented during a treacherous incident at the conclusion of a football game in which Will is playing. Lance’s life is put in danger because he is assumed to be gay. Learning of the peril, Will races to find Lance, and later writes in his journal, “I tried to keep my face from revealing the horror of what I saw and fought to keep from puking.”
Like Uncle Sean, this story is written in Will’s voice, in journal form. Donaghe’s talent is again showcased through his ability to capture a teen’s idealism, while depicting the angst and overwhelming responsibility thrust upon a young adult.
This story is ideal for gay teen boys who are discovering what it means to be gay. Both Will and Lance serve as role models for tackling the challenges and prejudice faced by gay teens who frequently have nowhere to turn for support. Though this book contains more graphic sexuality than did Uncle Sean, it is appropriate for a teen audience and should be added to appropriate reading lists and made readily available to those coming to terms with their sexual orientation.
The story leaves the reader wanting to learn more about Will’s and Lance’s lives, awaiting the next sequel. The tale seems so real that it takes a look at the title page to remind one that this is indeed fiction.