Tyler Morris just wants to find someone who’s brave enough to hold his hand, someone who isn’t ashamed to be his boyfriend. He’s guarding his virtue, saving himself for just the right boy, but while he’s busy waiting, the sex deprived part of Tyler’s sixteen-year-old libido is working to convince the apparently straight Billy Greske that he needs a boyfriend, while at the same time lusting a little bit for Eric Bryant, the bad boy who refuses to be labeled.
Tyler’s mother ran away with the circus, his dad’s in complete denial of Tye’s sexuality, his best friend Jenny is bipolar and more than a little fragile, and he’s just landed a small but fortunate part in a school film that may be a bit too controversial for the governing powers. It’s a part, though, that could just convince Billy that kissing a boy will straight up rock his world.
Outtakes of a Walking Mistake is a book that reminded me what a miracle it is that any of us managed to survive high school, being brave enough to admit you’re the square peg when everyone wants you to fit into the round hole, and growing up, experiencing the pangs of first lust, realizing that what you want and what’s right for you can be two very different things, that you’re worth waiting for, worth fighting for, that your self-respect is worth far more than settling as anyone’s dirty little secret.
Sometimes life can feel as though it’s little more than a series of mistakes to learn from. Sometimes it takes a series of lies and exposed secrets to lead you to the truth that life is full of small cuts and gaping wounds that shape who we are, that some of those hurts will eventually heal better than others, and that sometimes what you’ve been led to believe is as flexible as what you’ve been told is the truth.
Tyler is a sweet and funny narrator of his play, but for as much humor as there is in his story, there’s also a lot of heart there to remind you that being in that in between stage, when you’re no longer a kid but aren’t quite an adult, can be a really difficult transition to navigate.
Anthony Paull skillfully directs the reader through each scene, stepping back and wisely leaving his characters large and in charge, emoting and finding their marks and motivations within the simple act of living.