The Bermudez Triangle, one of the few novels to include a questioning character, looks at the evolving relationships between 3 friends as they explore their sexual identities and struggle to understand themselves and one another. Nina, Mel and Avery have grown up together and separate for the first time when Nina spends the summer before their senior year of high school away. In her absence Mel and Avery discover they have feelings for each other, share their first kiss and begin dating. Mel has been sure that she is a lesbian for a long time, but Avery is not as certain and struggles to define her sexual identity.
Though Mel and Avery try to keep their relationship a secret from their parents and their peers, they struggle with how and when to come out to Nina:
“We have to decide, Mel,” Avery said. “I don’t think its time to tell her.”
“When will it be time?”
“Not when she steps off a plane. We haven’t seen her since June.”
“So why don’t we get it out of the way?’ Mel asked. “We can’t lie to her.”
“How do you think she’s going to feel?”
“Fine,” Mel said defensively. “Nina doesn’t have a problem with this stuff.”
“Nina doesn’t have a problem hypothetically. Nina doesn’t have a problem with other people.” (p. 74-5)
Mel and Avery chose not to reveal their relationship to Nina, but she catches them kissing in a department store dressing room and they are forced to come clean. After this revelation, Nina struggles with how to respond to this new development. Her feelings about her friends and their sexual identities are complicated by the effect their relationship has on the friendship between the three and her own feelings of exclusion. In a letter to her boyfriend she writes:
I hate feeling like I’m always intruding on my friends. This is MEL AND AVERY! I am SUPPOSED to be with them. But they kind of shift around and look at each other with love eyes and I end up saying that I have to go home…I want my friends to be happy, but I also want my old life back. I feel like some big homophobe for complaining about Mel and Avery. That makes it even worse. And I’m not. At least I don’t think I am (p. 134).
As the story unfolds and the relationship between Avery and Mel evolves, Nina is at times stuck between her two friends, but ultimately discovers that both Avery and Mel are going through a difficult period in their lives and tries to support both the best she can.
Coming out to parents is not a central theme in the novel, but Mel and Avery are accidentally outed by Nina towards the end of the story and we observe different parental reactions. Mel’s mother is angry and unaccepting, but her father, while confused and still coming to terms with this development, is quieter and stands up for Mel. Avery’s mother is surprisingly accepting and even seems a little disappointed to discover that Avery is not in fact gay (p. 324).
Throughout the novel Nina, Avery and Mel all struggle to define who they are and their relationships with one another. It is a rocky road, but all three come out stronger and rebuild the bonds which originally connected them. With this foundation it is clear that Nina and Avery will be there to support Mel as she continues to come out as a lesbian and works through her relationship with her mother.
Johnson, M. (2004). The Bermudez Triangle. New York: Razorbill.