The War for Cole’s Sexual Orientation is maddeningly well written. I have nothing but nice things to say about it and author Nicholas Shapiro. Let me just say that the old saw “trust the tale, not the teller” is good advice here. In the meantime, allow yourself to be drawn in by this thought-provoking novella.
Eighteen year old Cole has always more than fulfilled his parent’s expectations. He is a talented athlete and well-liked. Everything changes when his younger sister walks in on him streaming the “wrong” kind of Internet porn and he decides to tell his family what they are in no way prepared to hear.
The story that follows is of a devout Christian family intent on converting their son to what they believe is the right thing – heterosexual thoughts, words, and deeds. The story is told throughout by a chorus of distinct voices, each one telling their own little piece. The author does not attempt to argue with his characters by tempering their points of view as Cole first attends conversion therapy and is later encouraged strongly by his parents to volunteer for experimental surgery when therapy doesn’t fix his sinful urges.
The final outcome of Cole’s surgery is not as important to the novel as the exploration of the personally and politically charged environment that would follow if medical interventions were proven to be effective in reassigning sexual orientation. The voices of the story will have you empathizing with loving Christian parents and the unhappy gay participants in turn as well as being appalled by the agendas of the gay rights advocates and medical team members. Having never thought of how the “Religious Right” might react to the possibility of surgical intervention to “correct” sexual orientation, I found myself being educated and even surprised by the story as it unfolded.
In addition to being thought-provoking, it is simply a good story. There are sub-plots and complications and complex interpersonal feelings. Sometimes you will be led astray (intentionally) by the author to be surprised again at the end. I found myself being angry at the author for including one character that represented an inaccurate and dangerous stereotype of gay men as pedophiles without having the character called out as inappropriate for the surgery. I’m pretty sure that is exactly what the author wanted me to feel.
You will want to know Cole’s eventual fate, but it will leave you with no answers on the nature/nurture debate. A definitive answer on that would lead into the realm of speculation, and I believe the author’s intent was not to push an agenda but to illuminate the world as it is.
There were no problems with spelling and grammar in this novel. It was also particularly well edited for such a complex structure. It had excellent flow.
Do I recommend The War for Cole’s Sexual Orientation? Absolutely! It is definitely priced right at $2.99 for a 156 page novella, and it is worth every dime. If you will not be offended by a brief description of a sexual interlude between two men, enjoy a good think every once and again, and can appreciate a story that isn’t driven by constant action, you will probably enjoy this book as much as I did.