Big Love is the first book I’ve written which I set in a small-town high school. In fact, my fictional high school is very much like the one I attended. Writing about the turbulent emotions of adolescence, first loves, and beginning to come to terms with who you are was a challenging and thought-provoking trip down memory lane.
I thought I’d share a couple pictures and memories of my alma mater, East Liverpool High School in East Liverpool, Ohio (the only high school in town). Like the characters in Big Love, my high school years were a time of struggle, sometimes joy, and often a lot about coming to grips about who that person was looking back at me from within the mirror.
Here’s the small, pottery town of East Liverpool where I grew up, taken from the Ohio River. The town rises up from the river’s banks.
And here is the high school that I mentally traveled back to in order to draw upon the memories and feelings that eventually went into Big Love. The school sits on one of the hills surrounding the town, so there was always a good view of everything. As a personal aside, my eldest niece and her husband still teach at the very same school.
And here are the pictures you may or may not have been waiting for: me as a much younger version of myself. One is my high school graduation photo and the other is from a time when I was just entering the confusing and awkward torture of adolescence. Oh, the innocence of that young man/boy! He had no idea what was in store for him. I suppose that’s true for all of us, right?
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.
But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.
As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.
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Note: This post originally appeared on the wonderful blog, Joyfully Jay.