Ziggy, Stardust and Me

James Brandon. Putnam, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-51764-1
Almost psychedelic in tone, this YA debut set in 1973 is a love letter to self-acceptance, even when the world is far from accepting. Gay during a time when queerness is criminalized, Jonathan, a white, asthmatic teen, lives with his alcoholic father in St. Louis and voluntarily undergoes aversion therapy—graphically depicted electroshock treatment—in the hope of avoiding being arrested for homosexuality, as his uncle was. At the same time, he can’t control how he feels about cool and confident Web, a Lakota classmate who kisses him by a lake. To cope with bullying and his sense of isolation, Jonathan lives in his own imagination and talks to his absent mother and to his idol, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. At times, Brandon’s prose drifts into a vague, almost dreamlike form, which makes some of the nightmarish scenes, such as an almost-deadly asthma attack, all the more intense. While not a comfortable read, this deeply impactful book presents historical attitudes and policies with a chilling accuracy that might be best suited for mature teens. An author’s note offers historical context and discusses non-Native Brandon’s experience with the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/13/2019
Release date: 08/06/2019
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-0-525-51765-8
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