I finished reading this book last week, but wanted to take the time to digest what I’d read. I’m still not sure how to respond to the book. Having read the three follow-up essays in the novel, I have a better understanding of the time period, the groundbreaking place this book earned, and the seeming timelessness of the book and the story.
Written in the late 1960s and published just months before the infamous Stonewall Riots, I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth The Trip. was a quiet force for change in young adult literature. It was one of the first young adult books, if not the first, to deal with homosexuality. And I felt it did so with a softness and quaintness that is often missing in the hyper-sexual hyper-hormonal way in which teen sexuality comes across in today’s media.
I found things which detracted from the novel, but reading the essays afterward cleared up a few. I found the writing to often be too unconnected, too informal, but found afterward that this was the beginning of the young adult literature movement and authors were only just exploring how to write for kids and that prior to this books were for either adults or for children with nothing between. I also thought some of the archetype happenings, specifically the beach scene and the major tragedies in order to becoming a new person, were a bit over-the-top, but again reading the essays showed why they were necessary and the impact on the novel itself.
Overall the novel was a beautiful timeless story and there are only a few references which put it squarely in the 1960s. I was perhaps most impressed with the father’s matter-of-fact reaction to Davy’s confession of ‘only making out once’ with another boy. His father and stepmother’s accepting reaction made me smile and served to further vilify Davy’s mother (whom I did not, and don’t believe you’re supposed to, like as a character).
The reason for its success perhaps lies in the fact that both detractors and supporters of LGBT rights of the time could read their own message into the book and this affects how you read the novel, especially the ending. I won’t tell the ending, but I chose to read it as a happy ending with much potential. I’ve even whited it out below in case you don’t want to read the last line even though it gives little away.
Recommendation: Definitely check it out!
Opening Line: The limousine drives up in front of the house.
Closing Line: “I guess we could respect each other.” I say. “Do you think so?” “Sure,” Altschuler says. (It’s in white in case you don’t want to read it.)
Additional Quotes from I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip
“I remember asking you once, have you ever been in love? Only about fifty times, you answered. We laughed and rushed through the New York City Streets on the way to the theater. you introduced me to ballet, to opera, your hunger to taste the stinging, the sweet, everything.” (Stacey Donovan – Foreword – Location 23)
“I can almost hear my grandmother telling me that no one on earth should be looked at as a curiosity but only out of curiosity of friendship.” (89 – Location 794)