A Better Place (2001) is a novel by Mark Roeder, set in the 1980s, about the struggles of two teenagers, jock Brendan and shy bookworm Casper, who struggle with their homosexuality. Together they face bigotry and incomprehension, before running away together in search of a better place.
This book contains examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Casper's dad.
- Armoured Closet Gay: Casper's older brother mocks him and his relationship with Brendan, using homophobic slurs... while he himself has abused Casper several times.
- The Beard: Sara to Brendan.
- The Bully: three of them.
- Gayngst: Although he isn't out, Brendan in relatively comfortable with his homosexuality. Casper, on the other hand... Being abused by his brother probably didn't help.
- Homophobic Hate Crime: Two characters from a previous novel are mentioned, who died as a result of homophobia and violence.
- Lovable Jock: Brendan is handsome, popular and rich... and also really sensitive and genuinely friendly.
- Meaningful Name: Casper was so nicknamed after the ghost. He's practically invisible to his classmates.
- Straight Gay: both protagonists.
- The Twink: Brendan repeatedly mentions how he likes Casper's small frame, blond hair and blue eyes.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Brendan, until he turns 18, is likely to be institutionalized by his parents. As for Casper, after his father's death, his only relative is his abusive brother who attempted to murder him.