Author: James Brandon
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: historical fiction, LGBTQ+
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.


Review

Jonathan is sixteen years old, growing up in 1973. He struggles with his alcoholic father and his sexuality. He relies on his best friend Starla, and on the idea that his “treatments” will one day make him normal. And then a new boy named Web moves into town and he’s about to turn Jonathan’s world upside down.

This book was absolutely mind-blowing amazing. A solid 5/5 stars for me. There is so much to unpack in this book. It was poignant and it was sad. This book touched on parts of history that people may not remember or realize. (It is definitely worth it to read the author’s note at the end.)

Jonathan is a great character, he is clearly growing up and struggling to find himself. He firmly believes in certain things, but in others he doesn’t. He’s miserable at school (something kids who are bullied will relate to) and he has few friends. But Jonathan doesn’t let that deter him, he uses his imagination to fill those empty holes.

This was a book that is still relevant to today’s events, and it was done in a way I thought was great — in introduced a section of society that is often marginalized in our history, and shows their strength.

I had a hard time forming coherent thoughts after I read this because it was so powerful to me. Especially the ending — the ending made the entire novel. It was a truly magnificent book and I can’t wait to see what this author has for the future! 

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