Jonathan A. Taylor’s The Rites of Passage is marketed as the first in a series of novels; it also ably stands on its own. The story follows Jamie Goldberg from elementary school to college, as he grows from an abused boy into a self-possessed young man. His life is a symphony of pain, humor, filth, and beauty as he struggles to come to terms with his identity in homophobic America.
Jamie Goldberg suspects his homosexuality at an early age and manages to hide it from his homophobic Seventies Detroit community, his Jewish political activist parents, and even from himself until his rape, at the hands of a male prostitute, at the age of 16. Profoundly ashamed, he hides in two worlds.
One world is an intellectual cocoon spun from music, art, theater, and literature. The other is a darker world where sadomasochistic desires attempt to obliterate his sexuality. His elaborate fantasies are no match for real life or his true affections, which blossom despite his constant attempts to thwart them. When his carefully constructed imaginary world begins to crumble, Jamie must face his demons, both real and invented and then the emotional sparks fly.
Most coming-of-age novels suggest this ‘coming of age’ is the defining moment in your life. The Rites of Passage takes a different view:
Jamie Goldberg faces the classical “Who am I?” question. His search brings more questions than answers. Follow him on his bumpy journey of self-revelation as he learns the difference between the self we can remake and reinvent as opposed to the other self —our integrity or our soul— which we can betray only at our peril. It’s a story of compassion and the yearning for the coming of age that never quite happens in real life—or rather happens again and again and again.
I loved this book! This book made me wince, this book made me cry and this book made me laugh. I could not put this book down! I can NOT wait for the second of this 3-part series of “The Goldberg Variations”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“Jonathan A. Taylor’s The Rites of Passage is marketed as the first in a series of novels; it also ably stands on its own. The story follows Jamie Goldberg from elementary school to college, as he grows from an abused boy into a self-possessed young man. His life is a symphony of pain, humor, filth, and beauty as he struggles to come to terms with his identity in homophobic America.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
Presently Taylor is writing a 3-part series titled The Goldberg Variations. This series follows its main character on a journey of self-discovery through trial and error, then through forgiveness and redemption. He meets a quirky cast of characters along the path to his surprising self-discoveries. The Rites of Passage is the first volume and covers such moments as identity, oppression, and abuse.