The Center of the World

milkboys Books, Films, Films & Cinema 6 Comments

When I was about 14 I carried a book with me everywhere for months because I just couldn’t let go of the protagonist. It must have been the first time that I really fell in love with a book. Welcome to The Center of the World… 

A coming of age story set in a remote mountain range in Germany; Author Andreas Steinhöfel weaves the elegant tale of a seventeen-year-old boy named Phil. Although the novel does deal with Phils sexuality, it primarily illustrates his tumultuous relationship with his unconventional mother, Glass, and reclusive twin sister, Dianne.

The family occupies a large estate, called Visible, on the outskirts of a socially repressive and ultra-conservative town. The town not only discriminates against Glass because of her promiscuous nature, but they transfer their criticisms to her two children. Therefore, throughout Phil’s childhood, he feels ostracised despite his mothers advice to ignore the harshness of the “Little People,” the people who inhabit the town.

Phil does discover refuge in the form of a young and vivacious girl named Kat who becomes his one and only ally. However, despite Phils seeming acceptance of his sexuality, he does not believe that his family or his friends would approve of his relationship with charming and attractive runner Nicholas who becomes his first boyfriend.

The novel is written in a first-person narrative with intermittent flashbacks that describe the roots of Phil’s personality. Steinhöfel’s greatest accomplishment is that he portrays homosexual relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual relationships. By demonstrating that the journey towards self-discovery of a young gay man is the same as that of a young straight man, Steinhöfel shows that discriminatory views on homosexuality are completely unfounded. In addition to vividly depicting Visible’s breath taking surroundings, his crisp and graceful prose provides insight into Phil’s complex thoughts and emotions.

Satisfying the reader with Phil’s self-discovery, the author does an excellent job of balancing the scales between satisfaction and misery, having and longing. By the end of the novel, one aches with a confused combination of happiness and grief. Steinhöfel and his novel deserve every word of praise.

English ISBN: 0440229324 | German ISBN 3551353158
English Version at Amazon | German Version at Amazon


A film based on the novel was released in 2016 in both German and English. I haven’t seen it yet and therefore can’t tell you if it does the book justice.  I have my doubts after watching the trailer which you can find below (and the actors being too old, as always, is only the most obvious of my many little complaints) but then again, I’m as biased as it gets so if the story sounds interesting to you at all, do give it a shot; or, if you already did, let us know in the comments how you liked it.

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Center of My World (Original Title: Die Mitte der Welt)
Release: 2016, Germany | IMDb | Facebook | Website

Comments 6

  1. Yes because this is the first book to portray gay relationships on equal grounds with straight ones. Nevermind that gay relationships AREN’T on equal grounds with straight ones. Last I checked, straight people don’t have to shield their phone while they go on certain apps because it’s the only way they can find people like themselves.

    David Levithan did it first. David Levithan did it better. Read some actual good books.

    1. When you have to act like a stuck-up elitist about the books other people enjoy lol. Is your life that sad that you need to get mad over people having a different taste than you? Not that you even read this book of course.

      Also, a tip, if you’re too embarrassed to use Grindr, try Tinder. Believe it or not, it works just as well for gay people as it does for straight ones. Doesn’t even matter if you’re after a sex date or a relationship.

  2. Blushing-cheeked blondie is gorgeous. I think the way to the center of his world must go through his bottom, ha ha. :)

  3. I’ve already watched the film as it is on the review circuit for festivals and I’m hoping we’ll be able to screen it. I haven’t read the book so I can’t make any comparisons. The other reviewers liked it as much as I did.

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