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  • Anneke Scholtens
    Hij was mijn vriend
    Leopold, 2002,2003

    This novel was first published in The Netherlands by Leopold Publishers under the title “Hij Was Mijn Vriend” and aims at young people in the age group of 14+. The first edition appeared in June 2002; the second in September 2003.
    In October 2006 it was published in France by Actes Sud Publishers under the title “C’ était mon ami.”
    In March 2007 it was published in Germany by Männerschwarm Publishers under the title 'Abel.'

    “He Was My Friend” deals with the friendship between the two young boys, Bart and Abel. They are best friends from the time they are ten years old until they are fourteen. At that point, it becomes clear to Bart that Abel is gay and Bart does not know how to deal with this. He feels embarrassed by the reactions of his classmates but he is also confused about his own feelings. These are his main reasons for putting an end to the friendship, which causes Abel a great deal of pain and frustration.

    A number of years later, while Bart is house-sitting in his parent’s house in the village where he and Abel grew up and played together, a death announcement is dropped into the mailbox. It turns out that Abel has died in “a tragic accident.”
    Because of this announcement -- but also because of his visit to Abel’s parents and the funeral at which Bart sees his old classmates again -- the memories start to come to life. Bart is forced, as it were, to reexamine his relationship with Abel: what did it mean to him and why wasn’t he able to deal with it differently?
    Bart finds support from his girlfriend, Rose, who comes to stay with him in his parent’s house. Rose continues to hound him about his relationship with Abel, in particular, when she feels that he is not being truthful about his feelings.

    As most gay coming-out novels describe the "phase" of an unhappy love affair with a heterosexual friend, this book has something special because it tells the story from the other perspective.

    The story consists of sixteen chapters, in which episodes from the present – that is, the summer of Abel’s death – alternate with episodes from the past. The latter describe how the friendship between Abel and Bart developed and, ultimately, was terminated.