cover image Hello,"" I Lied

Hello,"" I Lied

M. E. Kerr. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027529-7

With its addictive combination of absorbing themes and glamorous setting, Kerr's newest stands up to the best of her oeuvre. Lang Penner, still in high school, can't decide if he should come out. His single mother, not entirely accepting his gayness, discourages him; his lover, an actor who's just a bit older than him, favors candor. The issue seems paramount the summer Lang accompanies his mother from their home in New York City to work on Long Island for Ben Nevada, a reclusive retired rock star. Nevada has the mystique of Elvis and John Lennon, but although Lang is awed by his music, he doesn't let Nevada push him around. He refuses to squire around a teenage girl visiting from France, the daughter of Nevada's ex-lover. But Huguette proves as charming as Audrey Hepburn (Kerr doesn't just state this, she shows it), and Lang more than enjoys her company. His uncertainty about declaring his gayness to her gets more complicated as his attraction to her grows stronger. Meanwhile, he feels acutely aware of other people's duplicities: Huguette deceives Nevada about contact with an unsuitable boyfriend in France; the restaurant where Lang works serves pre-prepared food and passes it off as homemade; etc. Kerr's pacing is swift, her treatment of the rock-star scene glossy and compelling, and her approach to sexuality frank and honest. Lang and Huguette do have sex--once; and Lang comes to understand that sexual orientation is rarely fixed or unswerving. This book successfully challenges readers' assumptions, breaking them down to offer more hopeful, affirming ideas about love and truth. Ages 12-up. (May)