Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, and Carlyn Greenwald
Simon & Schuster
Published May 30, 2023
About Time Out
Heartstopper meets Friday Night Lights in this keenly felt coming-of-age story about a teen hometown hero who must find out who he is outside of basketball when his coming out as gay costs him his popularity and place on the team.
In his small Georgia town, Barclay Elliot is basically a legend. Here basketball is all that matters, and no one has a bigger spotlight than Barclay. Until he decides to use the biggest pep rally in the town’s history to come out to his school. And things change. Quickly.
Barclay is faced with hostility he never expected. Suddenly he is at odds with his own team, and he doesn’t even have his grandfather to turn to the way he used to. But who is Barclay if he doesn’t have basketball?
His best friend, Amy, thinks she knows. She drags him to her voting rights group, believing Barclay can find a bigger purpose. And he does, but he also finds Christopher. Aggravating, fearless, undeniably handsome Christopher. He and Barclay have never been each other’s biggest fans, but as Barclay starts to explore parts of himself he’s been hiding away, they find they might have much more in common than they originally thought.
As sparks turn into something more, though, Barclay has to decide if he’s ready to confront the privilege and popularity that have shielded him his entire life. Can he take a real shot at the love he was fighting for in the first place?
This is the kind of story that takes a minute to digest. From the cover copy, I knew that Barclay was going to come out at a very public pep rally and that it was going to go badly. And so, in the scenes leading up to that moment, I couldn’t help wanting to shield him somehow from the hurt that was obviously coming. But I could also really see why he wanted to do this and why he felt like it would be okay and would be safe.
And then it wasn’t. This left him not only dealing with people’s reactions to his identity but also a lot of judgment about how he came out. He was called selfish, attention-seeking, all kinds of things, and those judgments blindsided him as much as the withdrawal of support, and the surge of homophobia among the people he thought would have his back.
I felt like that emotional arc– Barclay unpacking his own motives and learning when to stand up for himself and call people out versus calling people in and helping them see him better– was the strongest part of the story.
Another thing the story addressed really well is the way that, initially, Barclay felt like he had to choose between being out and playing basketball. As he explored his boundaries and what he wanted, he began to think about what place basketball would have in his life. I liked that exploration as well.
I also thought the story was well-balanced in terms of the characters. There are some big personalities on the page, from his best friend Amy to the possible love interest and even his grandfather, Scratch, who passed away before the story began. Yet the story really remains Barclay’s. I liked that, too.
All in all, I think TIME OUT would have slipped under my radar if the publisher hadn’t sent me a copy. I’m really glad I read it. Coming out and facing homophobia aren’t exactly new stories, but I think this version brings some necessary pieces to the conversation, and it’s a well-balanced novel packed with interesting characters. I think fans of Bill Konigsberg (author of OPENLY STRAIGHT and THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS) will enjoy this one.
Content Notes for Time Out
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Barclay and another character are gay. One of Barclay’s friends is Japanese American.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.
Kissing between two boys. Vague/brief references to sex.
After coming out, Barclay faces an onslaught of homophobic comments. The F-slur is insinuated multiple times but only printed once. Barclay charges at a boy after he continually makes homophobic comments and threats to him and about him online. A boy punches another boy. A car slams into the back of a boy’s bicycle, injuring him. For a moment, it’s unclear whether the driver intends to hurt the bicyclist further.
Barclay goes to a college party with his older brother and drinks a lot of beer before making a fool of himself. He briefly references taking a friend’s CBD gummies between classes when he’s feeling stressed out.
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