Book Review: The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

the before now and after then paperback 3d_peter monn
Peter’s debut Young Adult novel is more about a teenaged American boy coming of age than an LGBT genre specific book.

Goldilock-ed Danny loses his twin brother in a terrible accident, forcing him to confront the fact that he really never had his own identity. It was always wrapped up in his brother. They may have looked just alike but they were very different: His brother was popular, athletic, smart and straight. Danny was none of those things.
Danny manages normal teenager ups and downs, such as bullying at school and coming of age and first love and new friendship and divorcing parents. However, because of his brother’s death, he seems to be dealing with several big challenges all at once. That is difficult for anyone, no matter their age. Adding onto the pile is the fact that he is gay in a world where that is still something separating you from most people – whether you are accepted or not.
Peter does a great job of making this book about more than being a gay teenager in the modern world. He dispels several stereotypes about gays, and in my opinion, that is the real benefit of homosexual authors coming out (ha ha – really bad pun, sorry) and writing fictional stories about regular people doing regular things. Because that is what is actually happening in real life.
Your average heterosexual doesn’t want to read LGBT genre books necessarily. Peter’s book does focus on the fact that Danny is gay; however, you can substitute any difference in any teenager and the rules and cruelty of life still apply. Instead of homosexual, it could be about the quiet geeky girl who likes Manga books and Anime conventions rather than flirting with boys and Coach purses. It could be about the shy boy who hates football and likes to paint pictures instead of bragging about his keg fueled weekend. There are many reasons for feeling and being different. When you’re a teenager, those reasons are only magnified.
This book, in its purest form, is about love. Loving yourself. Loving your family. Loving your friends. Loving your significant other. Loving your dog. There are many life truths implanted within the story telling, and Peter is an excellent writer. I highly recommend this book for all readers, especially young adult ones, and I look forward to seeing what Peter writes next. 
Lastly, there are many good insights inside of the book…but this one stuck with me the most because I feel exactly the same way. It was in Peter’s Acknowledgements section: “It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, but I will take that one step further; a dog is the true companion of a writer’s soul.”
To see Peter’s work, visit his website at http://www.PeterMonn.com


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