I’ve been hesitating writing this post, not because I don’t have an opinion about Raziel Reid’s When Everything Feels Like the Movies, but because I feel like whatever I say, it may come out sounding wrong.
Yes, it’s an important book presenting a point of view that’s rarely heard in the mainstream. Yes, it’s a compelling read; I finished it within 24 hours. Yes, I would read it again.
And yet my deepest reaction was: Do people really live like this?
And when I say like this, I don’t mean the way the main character Jude is a cross-dressing teenager. I don’t care that he’s a flamboyant gay. What shocked me was the misery of Jude and everyone who surrounds him, living lives that don’t seem to stretch beyond swearing and violence and sex and alcohol and drugs.
For Jude’s part, I can understand his world may be reduced to these qualities because of the abuse he suffers. But what about his best friend Angela? What makes her life such a black hole? Why doesn’t she pull herself out?
In a recent interview with CBC, Reid said he was simply capturing how teenagers today speak and behave. I sorely hope he refers to the minority. My youth was nothing like that, and I’m pretty sure the daily interactions of my teenage children aren’t either.
It’s a sad existence for every character, and I root every inch of the way for Jude to rise above it, however unlikely his schemes. But my main takeaway is this: If that’s the way some teens actually live, thank god I and my family have lived sheltered lives.