The reviews keep coming in . . .


"Soehnlein makes the familiar strange. Set in New Jersey in the late 1970's, this astringent novel is not just about Robin but the disintegration of his family. . . this is a rich and unflinching book."

--Matthew Flamm, New York Times Book Review

"Full of tension and suspense, Soehnlein's well-paced debut novel is a fresh look at one boy's sexual awakening in the 1970s and his journey to find a place where he can fit in. "

--Michelle Kaske, Booklist

"There's more than one way to finesse a sex scene. Soehnlein's style is to come at it directly, pulling no punches, no flinching, no poetic scrim of lovely buzz words. This is a smart, sensitive, direct story of one boy's coming of age, coming out, growing up gay in the suburban '70s. Very cool and endearing..."

--Portland Mercury

"Soehnlein sensitively portrays Robin's awakening homosexuality, and he is especially effective when detailing the family dynamics. . . the interesting story illustrates the gap between Robin's world and that of so-called normal boys."

--John Stickney, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Soehnlein's stunning first novel, The World of Normal Boys, reads like a cross between the film American Beauty and Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story. The book. . . unfolds with a hyperclarity that scrutinizes the complex tangle of emotions--rage, love, repressed desire--that govern suburban relationships. Along the way Soehnlein skillfully excavates the 1970s, pulling up old Patti Smith lyrics, Galaxie 500 convertibles, and scoop-neck T-shirts that say "Foxy Lady". . . . Even if you're not a child of the '70s, The World of Normal Boys will force you to relive the most painful moments of your adolescence. In the process you'll reaffirm your decision to be who you are now."

--Jeremy Quittner, The Advocate

"Soehnlein depicts Robin's physical awakening with sensitivity, and also illuminates his struggles with new moral dilemmas. The narrative presents an amusingly detailed picture of life in the Jersey 'burbs. . . Robin's story is ultimately a moving romance. . . of a boy with a city: the New York where Robin lived as a small child; the New York he visits with his mother on their "City Days"; the New York that remains, despite an ugly walk on its wild side, the city of Robin's dreams."

--Publishers Weekly

"Not only fresh, but also unforgettable. . . This is the real thing, brilliantly done."

--David Rosen, InsightOut Books

"I found myself excavating my sequestered (and intentionally forgotten) high school memories--healing old wounds and sexual confusion in the process. But there's much more to Soehnlein than his gift for inviting catharsis. His deft ability to conjure all the quirky cultural paraphernalia of the seventies--that circulates around his characters like a haze--is both amusing and astounding. . . Soehnlein's novel is a refreshing blast of storytelling--wonderfully crafted and lovingly offered. The World Of Normal Boys transcends its genre with a plausible narrative that shines with a cogent understanding of the human condition. What more could you want?"

--David K., Nightcharm, "Best Fiction of 2000"

"Because his characters are so engaging and his observations so acute, [Soehnlein's] story is a welcome addition to the canon. It is also compulsively readable. . . In Robin, Soehnlein has given us a character ready to handle anything the world throws at him."

--Martin Wilson, Lambda Book Report

"A stunning debut. . . While the setting is impeccably established, this is no nostalgic romp through tacky pop culture. Beneath the polyester veneer lies a work of uncommon craftsmanship. . . A book to be missed at your own peril."

--J.S. Hall, Bay Windows, Boston

"Gay male coming-of-age stories are not uncommon these days, but they are rarely as finely crafted as K.M. Soehnlein's impressive debut novel, The World of Normal Boys. Soehnlein pulls ahead of the pack with a plausible story line that resonates with an understanding of the human condition. He displays a great talent for precisely illuminating one boy's journey, within the context of a specific time and place. . . . With a complex and compelling narrative, Soehnlein succeeds in creating the entire world of Robin MacKenzie, with its sexual compulsions, self-doubt and uncertainty. And although the world described here is that of the late '70s, the issues of the book are wholly contemporary. The World of Normal Boys is a work of authenticity, as relevant to those who lived a similar coming-of-age experience many years ago as it will be to those who are living that experience now."

--Robert Julian, Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco

"Soehnlein's astonishing, heartfelt tale of growing up 'different' in the suburbs is as vivid and fascinating as a page from a high school yearbook. The '70s unfurl here like a polyester shirt: sexy, ugly, utterly unsuitable to the demands of childhood. For everyone who was ever picked on in their youth, here is comfort, revenge, and understanding."

--Stacey Richter, "My Date With Satan: Stories"

"Extraordinary . . . An exhilarating experience . . . That Soehnlein has produced as his first novel a work of such maturity and excellence is a little short of astounding."

--Fenton Johnson, "Geography of the Heart," "Scissors, Paper, Rock"

"Flawless in its physical and emotional detail, the story of Robin MacKenzie is one boy's spiritual awakening -- funny, heartbreaking, but most of all real-- familiar to anyone who has ever dared to dream about the world beyond their front door."

--William Mann, "The Biograph Girl," "The Men From The Boys"

 

Everyone's got an opinion.