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Freak Show

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  3,435 Ratings  ·  317 Reviews
Billy Bloom is gay, but it's mostly theoretical, as he hasn't had much experience. When he has to move to Florida, he can't believe his bad luck. His new school is a mix of bible belles, amberzombies, and football heroes -- none of which are exactly his type.

Billy's efforts to fit in and stand out at the same time are both hilarious and heart warming. In this novel from a
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Dutton Juvenile
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Rebecca McNutt
Freak Show is a great book about a kid trying to belong at his new high school, but some of the phrases and slang made absolutely no sense at all. It was like Urban Dictionary or something. "Aberzombie"? I don't know, maybe terminology like that is just from a different era or generation or something. Either way, this is still an impressive and unforgettable novel.
Feb 20, 2008 Karin rated it it was amazing
Billy Bloom has been forced to move to Florida for his Senior year of High School. His mom, a little on the bi-polar side, couldn't take his flamboyant attitude toward life anymore. Billy is a self-proclaimed "Gender Obscurist". A fabulously creative drag queen and a character that is resilient, lovable, and stronger than anyone ever would have imagined, including himself.

After enduring unspeakable torture and bullying from his shell-shocked classmates, Billy ends up in the hospital and has a mo
Jun 11, 2007 Elece rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young people searching for their place
Shelves: read-it-loved-it
what can i say? it's a beautiful, funny, tragic, wonderful, engaging, enchanting, delicious story.


Nov 19, 2008 h rated it it was ok
Recommended to h by: ALA 2007 list of Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Shelves: ya
"Mary Sue, sometimes shortened simply to Sue, is a pejorative term used to describe a fictional character who plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as "Mary Sues" is that they are too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or that the author seems to favor the ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Tfitoby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I could tell you why I read this but then again I couldn't really explain it. Apparently James St. James is slightly famous in reality programming but I know him from that movie Party Monster where he was played by Seth Green opposite Macauley Culkin (Mac was good in this role, I thought he could actually act.) I enjoyed the movie and apparently it was based on the true crime anecdote/biography of James St. James - Disco Bloodbath. Knowing what kind of experiences the guy has had in real life ga ...more
Mar 13, 2011 Christian rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 18, 2007 Autumn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Perez Hilton and Hedwig fans
Shelves: teenagers, lgbtq
Super fun story of teen drag queen Billy Bloom, who is stuck in red-state Florida ALAS! Billy is a spunky hero/ine who is estranged from his parents, beaten up at school and also a bit bipolar. But his story is never downbeat -- the saddest events are frankly discussed and summarily dismissed with a La La La and another glob of glitter.

Tucked inside the first person narrative, you will find beauty tips (use surgical glue to attach metal to your skin), outlandish quips and a few canape reciepts.
Jul 29, 2008 Allyson rated it it was amazing
Freak Show is the story of Billy Bloom: Self-Proclaimed Superfreak and his journey through his senior year of high school. Told from the first person point of view, Billy invites the reader to question normalcy and encourage acceptance.

In the beginning of the story, the reader learns that Billy has been banished from his mother’s home for unknown reasons, and he has come to live with his rich father in Florida. However, Billy is not the everyday high school senior boy. He is gay, admittedly un-a
Oct 13, 2015 Nicky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: love
Billy Bloom is a self-proclaimed “Gender Obscurist” living a happy life in Connecticut. When his mother sends him to live with his father in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, things take a turn for the worst. Billy is a fabulously flamboyant drag queen who doesn’t believe in toning things down, even in his new wealthy and conservative community. After his first day at the Dwight D. Eisenhower High School however, Billy comes to the realization that he is at the bottom of the food chain. He has become a ...more
Feb 20, 2009 Sam rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Billy Bloom is a fabulous drag queen of a teenager who finds himself out of luck when his mother sends him off to live with his rich father in the rural Florida swamps for his last year of high school. Surrounded by a family who doesn't accept him, students who are horrified by him or praying on his behalf, and constant physical threats, Billy decides to take it upon himself to shake up his private institution and make progress for the GLBTQ community.

I read this book very soon after it came in
While I see why everyone enjoys this book -- Billy's voice is strong, entertaining, and often laugh-out-loud funny, and there's no doubt that it's high time we get to see a teen drag queen as the main character -- I also found that I could easily put this book down without being compelled to pick it up again. This means a book is less than successful for me, especially when it means I'm immediately drawn into another book and therefore obviously wasn't all that involved in the first title I was ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Barb rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel, humor, young-adult, glbt
Let's just state it flat out: I LOVED this book. I was laughing like a loon and crying piteously on the same page, and that was just during the introduction. God bless all the Billies in this world who refuse to be reshaped and processed until they fit the proper brand. A character of enormous energy and caprice, Billy had me running to keep up with him as he careened through that mausoleum of mediocrity they called a school until I was out of breath, but I kept going because I just could not pu ...more
Feb 15, 2008 Debra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teens who want a quirky fun read
A very funny novel about a drag queen in a conservative high school. The protagonist is charming, his voice is unique, and the pace is fast. A refreshing read.
Sep 21, 2010 Kassa rated it really liked it
I originally picked up this book because I saw a twitter from @booksmugglers that said “this book is fabulous.” That was enough recommendation so I went to pick it up from my local library. Little did I know I was picking a story filled with FABULOUS GLAMOUR, complete with wigs, sequins, glitter, and enough makeup to paint a mansion. Billy is not only outrageous, over the top, ridiculous, and fabulous in every possible meaning of the word, he’s also a young teenager figuring out what he is and h ...more
Nov 25, 2012 Isaiah rated it did not like it
See more of my reviews at

I was very excited about this book and I tried hard to like it. The main problem was the main character, Billy Bloom, was so damn unlikeable that I was hoping he didn't survive. He was over dramatic, self absorbed, annoying, a drama queen (haha bad pun, yes), and probably knew nothing about actually doing drag as he was hated by everyone. There was no way that he would have been able to have the skill that the author gave him and there
Ulysses Dietz
Apr 14, 2016 Ulysses Dietz rated it it was amazing
Billy Bloom may just be the most frustrating character in the history of LGBT/YA novels.

And yet, how could I not love him?

Billy is rich and oblivious. And extremely nelly. And a drag queen. At seventeen. Having been suddenly shipped to southern Florida by his crazy mother to stay with his grouchy, disapproving father in the family’s ancestral mansion, Billy suddenly finds himself in a snooty private school full of blond conformists and jocks.

Not the least of whom is Flip Kelly. Football star.
Book Concierge
Billy Bloom is a gay teenager who has recently moved to Florida. It’s bad enough being the new kid at school when you are a senior, but being an emerging drag queen at an ultra-rich, ultra-conservative school is even more challenging. Billy tries to make friends but the teasing, taunting and bullying he has to endure get out of hand quickly. Deciding that he has to be himself and speak up (and out loud) for all those other “shadow kids” trying to get along by not being noticed, Billy makes a mom ...more
Kelly Herta
Sep 27, 2011 Kelly Herta rated it did not like it
Summary: This story is told by a young man, Billy Bloom, who is sent to live with his father in Florida. We get to read about his most personal thoughts and sarcastic comments. Billy starts to attend a conservative private high school for his senior year. Billy makes heads turn when he shows up dressed as a pirate, which he thought was very masculine and would win his new friends. He ends up getting laughed and and becomes a spitball target. He continues to dress outlandish and the other student ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
May 14, 2008 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens 14 and up
Shelves: youngadult, humor, glbt
Billy Bloom enjoys dressing in a flamboyant style that seems perfectly normal to him, but to his new fellow students in Florida is shocking.
Billy just gets more and more outrageous in an attempt to win people over, and things come to a head the day he wears a swamp queen get up with tentacles. That's the day the football team attacks him in class, and only the intervention by the star player, Flip, saves him from the beating becoming fatal.
With Flip and a secret friendship with a girl whose name
Danielle Routh
Jun 11, 2016 Danielle Routh rated it liked it
Disagreement of lifestyle aside (why else do we read, really?), this book is amusing, well-written, and chock-full of pop culture references that, if we're being honest, may puzzle the average reader but still provide a nice flavor. Overall, however, it lacks substance, much like its protagonist Billy Bloom. The plot is rambling, cliched, and (even with suspension of disbelief) utterly unbelievable. I have no doubt that it's an important book for the LGBT community, but it's not exactly great li ...more
Devin Tait
Apr 16, 2008 Devin Tait rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read, but very fun and at times hilarious, other times saddening but overall it had a great message and the language and dialogue were very vivid and interesting. This book was written way before the whole "it gets better" movement and therefore may have been ahead of its time, as it's very appropriate now that bullying has been in the spotlight. Freakshow handles the themes of bullying and gay teens in such a responsible, thoughtful and insightful way.
Nov 27, 2010 kb rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads, ya-reads
This is one of the most touching books I have ever read. Not that it tries hard to be overly emotional or something. The main character, Billy Bloom, is hilarious. He is the sunshine DURING the rain. Imagine seeing the + energies in life despite the - vibes he was undergoing, such as the horror of bullying by his preppy classmates in his new school just because he was gay=different, a dysfunctional family and so on. He is his own hero!
Virginia Osborne
Feb 20, 2015 Virginia Osborne rated it liked it
This book was fabulous. But I had a hard time identifying with the main character and getting into his head. Perhaps this is an intentional effect of the smoke screen of fabulosity that he projects. Very little makes it past the curated exterior. I felt held at arms length as merely an observer through the whole Freak Show. But it was a good read that ended well, despite the earlier episodes that made me worry it would be too stereotypical. It definitely is not.
Dec 02, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-library

I'm all for a good lgbt book, but this one just missed the mark. It author tried too hard to be funny and cool, with all the pop culture references, but it just didn't work for me. Plus, I found the main character slightly annoying.
Aug 15, 2007 Rory rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: um, fans of teenage drama queen drama?
Shelves: kids
i really liked this book. i really liked the pacing, the language, the tension, the melodrama, and the grit. and the OTT topic, of course: 17-year-old drag queen invades his new Souther Florida prep school with forcible fabulousness. and then gets the shit beat out of him.
May 03, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book! Very over the top and fun but also sad at times.
Apr 04, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: gender obscurists, glitteroids, superfreaks
Recommended to Kate by: Rivera
Shelves: teen-fic, ischool
Annotation: 17-year-old “gender obscurist” Billy Bloom moves from his alcoholic mother’s house in Darien, Connecticut, to his absentee father’s estate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and begins a new school year at wealthy, conservative Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy. From the first day he is beaten literally and figuratively for the way he dresses, speaks and acts by his classmates--particularly the football team in his biology class--while the teachers turn a blind eye. After a particularly savage ...more
r. lee wicks
May 10, 2017 r. lee wicks rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Incredibly funny, very satisfying for anyone that can connect with being different and growing up with less accepting peers. Not the most well-written book, but easy to get past!
Deborah Takahashi
Mar 29, 2013 Deborah Takahashi rated it it was amazing
Billy Bloom is not the average teenage boy. In fact, he is far from average; he is FABULOUS! As a drag princess, Billy has absolutely no qualms about slathering on the white make-up, wearing extravagant costumes, and dawns a loud and proud attitude. In Connecticut, he was the reigning leader of the Gay-Straight Alliance and had the time of his life. However, his mother decided that it was time his nonexistent father took care of him and she shipped him off to the armpit of hell: Florida. After h ...more
Jeanette Cupcake
Mar 13, 2017 Jeanette Cupcake rated it liked it
Sooooo, this had great potential- the main character Billy is pretty funny, but it just went on and on and on and his diatribes got old and boring after a while. It could've been shortened by removing 50 pages of nothingness.
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The Backlot Gay B...: Freak Show, by James St. James 3 11 Apr 14, 2016 05:35PM  
About Freak Show...warning: spoilers! 1 50 Jun 17, 2008 05:26PM  
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James St. James (born James Clark), is a former Club Kid of the Manhattan club scene in the late 1980s/early 1990s and the author of Disco Bloodbath (now published under the title Party Monster). He was notorious for a lifestyle of excess that included heavy drug use, partying, and bizarre costumes.
More about James St. James...

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“Love is easy; it's when you actually like someone that it gets difficult. Putting up with their odd idiosyncrasies. They way they suck their teeth after dinner, say, or the way they change perfectly good lightbulbs. It's when you like somebody despite the fact that they have every season of Reba on DVD - that you know it's something special. It's about liking someone in spite of the gaping flaws in their personality...” 4 likes
“And LO and BEHOLD, I was on BOTH the six AND eleven o’clock newscasts!
AND all the commercials, as well! (‘Day of the drag queen at one area high school, controversy at six!’)
And it must have been a slow night because I was the SECOND PIECE of the night! The granny suicide bomber got the lead. BITCH! But I managed to beat out the president’s pulled groin and day six of the Jessica Simpson chapped-lip crisis!”
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