Saturday, January 30, 2010

THE LESS-DEAD by April Lurie

Raised in a strict evangelical home, author April Lurie explains in her author's note how closely she can relate to Noah Nordstrom, the main character in her latest book.  THE LESS-DEAD is a compelling story of drama, religious frustrations, and murder. 

Noah Nordstrom has been raised from birth to view religion and the Bible as the road map of life. His father is the well-known Bible Answer Guy whose radio talk show is extremely popular in the Bible-belt city of Austin, Texas.  Maybe in rebellion against his father and his church upbringing, Noah has turned into a trouble-maker.  He attends a school for juvenile offenders and his parents attempt to keep him on a short leash.

Despite almost constant supervision, Noah and his friend Carson get out quite a bit using youth group activities as a cover.  On one such outing, Noah meets Will, a foster kid living on the streets.  Will's interest in poetry and music make for the beginning of a fast friendship.  The two find they have a lot in common, although, Carson lets Noah in on the fact that Will is gay and may be interested in more than simple friendship.

When Noah lets Will know he is straight and hoping to win back his ex-girlfriend Aubrey, Will seems happy with just being friends and sharing their common interests.  Noah invites Will to his house thinking his father might be able to help Will find a place to stay, but when Mr. Nordstrom finds out Will is gay, his religious beliefs come between his son and the help he wants for his friend.  Noah is furious, and the already fragile relationship with his father deteriorates even further.

A background bit of plot becomes central to the story as Noah and Will spend more time together.  A gay teen is found murdered in Austin.  The murder is classified as a hate crime and is soon connected to the religious community when the police arrest a former member of Noah's family's church.  When a second gay teen is found dead, Noah begins to worry about his new friend's safety.

THE LESS-DEAD is packed with action and controversy.  April Lurie will have readers questioning their prejudices and their views of traditional and contemporary religious beliefs.  Teens living in circumstances similar to those of Noah and Will, will find THE LESS-DEAD more than just an entertaining novel.  Hopefully, they will learn they are not alone in their feelings of confusion and self-doubt.  This is a story that offers huge potential for discussion and soul-searching.

1 comment:

Melanie said...

I enjoyed this book but wish it had been a bit longer. I wanted to get to know the characters a bit better before Will's death. Good review!