I am excited to announce the publication of my first novel for young adults, Absolutely, Positively Not.

The story began with a question: How could a teenage boy, who is not interested in girls, avoid being pressured into taking a girl to his high school prom? My answer: He could take a dog instead. This idea resulted in the short story “Taking Alice to the Prom,” which was published in Cicada magazine. After more than three years of rewriting and expanding, the story became my first novel.

Although Steven, the main character, is fictional, he shares a lot of the same doubts and worries that I had growing up. It was very satisfying for me to take the fears I had as a teenager and turn them into a story that (hopefully) makes people laugh.

To read an interview with me about the book, check out Daphne Lee’s Blog.

Absolutely, Positively Not
Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic, 2005
Ages 13-18
ISBN 0-439-59109-0

Sixteen-year-old Steven DeNarski doesn’t know if he’ll pass his driver’s test or if he’ll ever understand his parents, but there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s absolutely, positively NOT gay. He sets out to prove it by collecting photos of girls in bikinis, sitting at the jock table at school, and dating like crazy. “Absolutely” takes a humorous look at the life of a regular boy who’s finding out what it takes to be a real man.

Receiving the Sid Fleischman Humor Award from Newbery winner Sid Fleischman himself was one of the highlights of my writing career. To think that my book joins the ranks of previous winners such as Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko makes me beam with pride!

Sid Fleischman, Lisa Yee recipient of the 2003 Sid Fleischman Award, me, and my editor Arthur Levine

Making my acceptance speech at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles.

Awards

American Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults
Booklist Top Ten Debut Novel
Booklist's Editors' Choice for 2005
CCBC Choices
Garden State Teen Book Award nominee, 2008
Georgia Peach Book Award for Teens nominee 2008-2009
IRA Young Adult Choices for 2007
New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age
SCBWI 2005 Sid Fleischman Humor Award

Reviews:

"In a touching, sometime hilarious coming-out story, Steven DeNarski, 16, tries to deny he is gay. He covers his Superman posters with pictures of women in skimpy bikinis and lacy lingerie, and he follows the aversion therapy prescribed in a parents' handbook for getting over his "deviant" desires and awakening his sluggish interest in girls. He hangs out with the hockey players and tries to start dating (even kissing), to the delight of his fussy mom and macho dad. It doesn't work. When he reluctantly tells his friend Rachel that he is gay, he has to restrain her from celebrating it to the world and "empowering" him at school. The wry, first-person narrative is wonderful as it moves from personal angst to outright farce (Steven takes a pet golden retriever to the school dance). The characters are drawn with surprising depth, and Steven finds quiet support, as well as betrayal, in unexpected places. Many readers, gay and straight, will recognize Steven's need to talk to someone."

“David LaRochelle’s extraordinary narrative is an exquisite balancing act with humor as its center point: he takes Steven from denial and aversion to a place of empowerment and self-acceptance in a story that is laugh-out-loud funny—offering witty commentaries on popular culture—even as it shines with moments of poignancy and truth.”

“Gay teen angst has rarely been so funny ... this will entertain readers no matter which team they play for.”

“... light, funny, and warm-hearted, with a cast of quirky yet recognizable characters, a series of larger-than-life events, and an immediately likable, sympathetic protagonist... LaRochelle’s impeccable comic timing leads to many snort-worthy moments ...”

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