Bibliographic information: Gemini Bites. Patrick Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2011. $17.99. 240p. ISBN-13: 9780545221283.
Summary: Kyle and Judy are twins, who do not get along. Judy is always trying to win against Kyle. It is a large household and takes a lot to get some attention. Kyle has just told his family he is gay. To his relief, the family accepts it and moments later are distracted. Not to be one-upped by Kyle, a few days later Judy tells her family she is born-again and has found God. However, she is met with the same reaction that Kyle got. Later, over dinner, their father tells everyone that they are having a mysterious guest stay with them until the end of the school year. The mysterious guest is a boy, Garret Johnson, from Kyle and Judy’s class, but nobody knows much about him. Kyle gains information from a fellow student who says Garret is a vampire. After moving in, Garret plays on the vampire thing saying he really is one and gradually he starts to take an interest in both Kyle and Judy. Both intrigued by this, they start to compete for his affections.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 14 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Gemini Bites is a delightful story of sixteen-year-old twins of a family of nine, Judy and Kyle, tend to compete over anything and everything. Kyle is gay, but Judy is born-again. And their newest competition, Garret Johnson, is…a vampire? After moving into their attic, claiming to be a vampire, Garret starts to take an interest in both Judy and Kyle. They can’t figure out whether he is gay, straight, into twins, or if he really is a vampire, but they compete for him anyhow. This book is written so that every chapter alternates between Kyle and Judy in the first person. All of the characters in this book have their own unique personalities that make them easy to remember. Teenagers will have an easy time relating to the language. This is a wonderful story with a twist at the end that may just surprise you. Covering a variety of problems teens may face in life, this book illustrates how you may get through them.
Readers’ annotation: A mysterious character takes up residence in Kyle and Judy’s home claiming to be a vampire, all the while leading them both on. Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire? Which one is Garret Johnson?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book encourages teen to be proud of who they are and their sexuality. They do not need to hide behind facades to be excepted by their parents and friends. And they should not hide who they are.
Issues present: Not only is there a couple of gay boys in this book, but one of them claims to be a vampire. People may object to these two things thinking they are wrong and possibly too frightening for children to handle. However, we should be able to encourage children to be who they are and not balk at their sexuality. Also, supernatural monsters in books help children fight their fears in a safe way.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the twins and Garret’s characters.
Gay, straight, twinsexual, or vampire?
Genre or subject: GLBTQ, twins, relationships
Readalikes: Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Totally Joe, Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Rainbow Boys
Author’s website: N/A
Awards: Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Debut Fiction Nomination, Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult Nomination
Reviews: Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Gemini-Bites-Patrick-Ryan/pid=4491838; School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-19814097900108.xml; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-545-22128-3; Kirkus Review: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/patrick-ryan/gemini-bites/
Why I chose it: This book had a different way of introducing gays into the book and Ryan threw in a popular topic by using vampires to twist up the story a bit. I couldn’t hold back from reading it.