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"Vintage" by Steve Berman

I picked up “Vintage” when reading an article about the lack of good gay/lesbian young adult fiction. This is a great example of the genre.

The narrator of “Vintage” is a teen whose personal life is in an upset. Remember all the angsty poetry? Don’t lie. I know you’ve written some.

After being outed as gay to his parents and half his hometown, he finds refuge in a creepy little town in New Jersey where he makes friends with a girl interested in all things macabre. Their favorite pastime is dressing up and going to funerals. Until he discovers that the dead can hear his voice...

When he meets the wanderer of highway 47, he thinks having an attractive dead guy’s attention is exciting, but as his encounters with spirits intensify, this ghost becomes too much for him to handle alone.

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This read is definitely for older teens and adults due to casual drug use and sexual scenes.

That being said, what I loved about this story was the unapologetic view of the teen experience. There was underage drinking and drug use as casual as I remember from when I was a teenager. There were no “but it’s bad for you” add ins to take away from the authenticity.

The now historic mention of huffing, which peaked in the 1990’s, was a very creative touch.

There was sexual content without it being overwhelming. It didn’t overshadow the rest of the book as it commonly does in romance. This may have had to do with the fact that “Vintage” is also a horror and certain scenes will leave you replaying them in your head after all the lights are off.

I am an avid reader of horror, but even I had to decide not to read a certain scene too close to bedtime. Horrifying rhyming baby dolls do that to me.

Berman’s rules for ghosts and the human mediums they stalk were original and believable. The suspense, horror, and blooming romance kept me turning to the last page.

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October 2011

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