My Thinning Years: Starving the Gay Within by Jon Derek Croteau (Giveaway)

My Thinning Years is a well written and engaging memoir. As a little boy Jon Derek Croteau liked to play dress up and hang out with the girls. He was always a disappointment to his atheletics-obsessed father who berated him for being unmanly. His mother was sympathetic and affectionate, but in the early years of his life didn’t do much to run interference between her youngest son and her abusive husband. As a young boy Croteau comes to see that confiding in his mother sometimes exacerbates tensions between his parents. I was reminded at times of Pat Conroy’s novels that feature a gentle son who is tormented by a hypermasculine, abusive father.

Croteau shows the painful reality of what its like to grow up gay in a homophobic, abusive home, one ruled by a father with inflexible, stereotypical gender role expectations. As Croteau reaches an age where he can no longer deny his sexuality, he attempts to bring some control to his life by throwing himself into his studies and school activities and begins to practice fat intake restriction that blossoms into full blow anorexia and addiction to fat burning pills and laxatives. He also becomes an exercise bulimic with self-punishing running.

This memoir kept me up reading past my bedtime. It is, of course, a painful story to read, but if you read the back of the book you know Croteau is now in a better place and has written his memoir to help others. Just as he painstakingly shows how it took years for him to reach his bottom, Croteau also shows how he took his tentative first steps towards self acceptance and what a long, hard, and never-ending road the path towards healing is. A mother who finally steps up, supportive siblings, solid friends, Outward Bound, compassionate professors, and a therapist who was a good fit are a few of the key elements that helped save Croteau’s life.

Readers interested in LGBTQ childhood & life issues, homophobia, anorexia, bulimia, and dysfunctional family systems will want to check out this memoir.

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My Thinning Years: Starving the Gay Within
Jon Derek Croteau
Hazelden, September 2014

Source: review copy through TLC Book Tours

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