Title: The Batboy
Author: Terry O’Reilly
Length: (45 pdf pages)
Publisher: Queerteen Press
Genre: m/m YA contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Thad Stevens loves baseball — he’s loved it for as long as he can remember. Thad’s dream of becoming a batboy comes true when he’s chosen to be on the squad for the Buzzards, a local, semi-pro baseball team.
His duties put him in constant contact with his idol, shortstop Iggy Hernandez. Thad struggles with his growing attraction to the handsome ball player.
One day Thad accidentally discovers Iggy has a secret life. What will Thad do with this new information, and what implications does it have for the young batboy and his relationship with the man he admires?
This is a very understate m/m without any real romance for our teenage protagonist, however I think it was a good look inside the head of a teenager just coming to terms with his sexuality. Thad is a baseball fan who has been desperate to become one of the batboys their local baseball teams recruits each year. It’s his last chance, being seventeen. He also idolizes one of the players Iggy and is starting to suspect he might be gay as most of his fantasies revolve around Iggy, not girls.
He’s thrilled when he gets the position and Iggy is a great guy who seems to like him a great deal. However Thad comes from a very religious family and every time he masturbates to fantasies of Iggy, he then promises God that he’ll never do that again. However one night, working late cleaning some equipment, he sees Iggy and another player kissing by the hot tub and his whole world is tipped upside down. When Iggy asks him to come over and help with some chores, his mind goes crazy with what that means. Would Iggy want him? Is Iggy with Danny, the other player? Is this Thad’s chance to get together with his idol? All those million questions that race through a teens mind when facing the opportunity to be up close and personal with your idol.
While I enjoyed Thad’s thought process, that rather random and fantastical thinking that teens are prone to, I found it difficult to handle his family and this is something that is very personal for me. I felt like they were trapped in a 50′s time warp and I sometimes had to remind myself that it is a contemporary. Also his family is one of those ones that truly believe God will answer your prayers and that all forms of sexual expression are inherently evil and send you hell-bound (how do these people even reproduce?). I sense a LOT of issues for Thad in the future if he chooses to come out to his family. Also Thad seems a bit ignorant about gay people. Granted, he may not know any (that he knows of) but he is totally blown away when Iggy and Danny are gay and aren’t running around looking like they just stepped off RuPaul’s Drag Race. Surely with the increasing coverage of marriage equality, even a kid with religious parents couldn’t miss the fact that men do indeed get married and have what he considers “normal” lives. Has he not heard of Neil Patrick Harris and his adorable twins?
This could very well be my own pop culture awareness bleeding over into a character. I’m sure there are kids who are oblivious, but I kept wondering how he could be so unaware, however Iggy and Danny tell him about the It Gets Better videos and I wondered if they suspected he was gay and that was why Iggy seemed to befriend him more than some other kids. Despite my own personal discomfort with Thad’s family, I liked his upbeat personality and how he didn’t let the religious fear rule him completely. I could envision him one day stepping away and exploring who he really was and finding someone of his own. I think it would be a good story for other young people to read about someone coming to understand their own sexuality.