David LaRochelle

author & illustrator

Absolutely, Positively NOT …

absolutely Positively NOT

by David LaRochelle
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005
Ages: 12 and up
ISBN 978–0439591096

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Six­teen-year-old Steven DeNars­ki doesn’t know if he’ll pass his driver’s test or if he’ll ever under­stand his par­ents, but there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s absolute­ly, pos­i­tive­ly NOT gay. He sets out to prove it by col­lect­ing pho­tos of girls in biki­nis, sit­ting at the jock table at school, and dat­ing like crazy. “Absolute­ly” takes a humor­ous look at the life of a reg­u­lar boy who’s find­ing out what it takes to be a real man.

Behind the Book

This sto­ry began with a ques­tion: How could a teenage boy, who is not inter­est­ed in girls, avoid being pres­sured into tak­ing a girl to his high school prom? My answer: He could take a dog instead. This idea result­ed in the short sto­ry “Tak­ing Alice to the Prom,” which was pub­lished in Cica­da mag­a­zine. After more than three years of rewrit­ing and expand­ing, the sto­ry became my first novel.

Although Steven, the main char­ac­ter, is fic­tion­al, he shares a lot of the same doubts and wor­ries that I had grow­ing up. It was very sat­is­fy­ing for me to take the fears I had as a teenag­er and turn them into a sto­ry that (hope­ful­ly) makes peo­ple laugh.

To read an inter­view with me about the book, check out Daphne Lee’s Blog.

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Sid Fleischman Humor Award

Receiv­ing the Sid Fleis­chman Humor Award from New­bery win­ner Sid Fleis­chman him­self was one of the high­lights of my writ­ing career. To think that my book joins the ranks of pre­vi­ous win­ners such as Mil­li­cent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gen­nifer Chold­enko makes me beam with pride!

Sid Fleischman Award
Mak­ing my accep­tance speech at the SCBWI con­fer­ence in Los Angeles.
Sid Fleischman Award
Sid Fleis­chman, Lisa Yee recip­i­ent of the 2003 Sid Fleis­chman Award, me, and my edi­tor Arthur Levine

Awards and Recognition

Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion’s Best Books for Young Adults
Book­list Top Ten Debut Nov­el
CCBC Choic­es
New York Pub­lic Library’s Books for the Teen Age
Book­list’s Edi­tors’ Choice
SCBWI Sid Fleis­chman Humor Award
IRA Young Adult Choic­es
Gar­den State Teen Book Award nom­i­nee
Geor­gia Peach Book Award for Teens nom­i­nee
Italy’s Ander­sen Award finalist


 “In a touch­ing, some­time hilar­i­ous com­ing-out sto­ry, Steven DeNars­ki, 16, tries to deny he is gay. He cov­ers his Super­man posters with pic­tures of women in skimpy biki­nis and lacy lin­gerie, and he fol­lows the aver­sion ther­a­py pre­scribed in a par­ents’ hand­book for get­ting over his “deviant” desires and awak­en­ing his slug­gish inter­est in girls. He hangs out with the hock­ey play­ers and tries to start dat­ing (even kiss­ing), to the delight of his fussy mom and macho dad. It does­n’t work. When he reluc­tant­ly tells his friend Rachel that he is gay, he has to restrain her from cel­e­brat­ing it to the world and “empow­er­ing” him at school. The wry, first-per­son nar­ra­tive is won­der­ful as it moves from per­son­al angst to out­right farce (Steven takes a pet gold­en retriev­er to the school dance). The char­ac­ters are drawn with sur­pris­ing depth, and Steven finds qui­et sup­port, as well as betray­al, in unex­pect­ed places. Many read­ers, gay and straight, will rec­og­nize Steven’s need to talk to some­one.” (Hazel Rochman, Book­list, starred review)

“David LaRochelle’s extra­or­di­nary nar­ra­tive is an exquis­ite bal­anc­ing act with humor as its cen­ter point: he takes Steven from denial and aver­sion to a place of empow­er­ment and self-accep­tance in a sto­ry that is laugh-out-loud funny—offering wit­ty com­men­taries on pop­u­lar culture—even as it shines with moments of poignan­cy and truth.” (Coop­er­a­tive Chil­dren’s Books Cen­ter)

“Gay teen angst has rarely been so fun­ny … this will enter­tain read­ers no mat­ter which team they play for.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“… light, fun­ny, and warm-heart­ed, with a cast of quirky yet rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ters, a series of larg­er-than-life events, and an imme­di­ate­ly lik­able, sym­pa­thet­ic pro­tag­o­nist … LaRochelle’s impec­ca­ble com­ic tim­ing leads to many snort-wor­thy moments …” (Bul­letin of the Cen­ter for Chil­dren’s Books)