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Becoming Nancy

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  209 ratings  ·  42 reviews
For David Starr, being cast as Nancy in the upcoming school production of Oliver! is quite a shock. But David is up to the challenge. Living in a three-bedroom semi in 1970s' working-class East Dulwich, surrounded by his somewhat colourful relatives, he is bright, smart-mouthed, fanatical about pop music and ready to shine. Rehearsals begin, and he strikes up a friendship ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Corgi (first published April 9th 2011)
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  209 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review also appears on my blog alexreadsboooks

I trusted the cover of this book, thinking that it would be a fun read, but I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, it does have its moments, and David is really sassy and funny. But that's about it. From homophobia to sexual abuse of a minor, this book has it all. It seems like whenever David finally caught a break and was able to just breathe, the author decided that it was enough and he needed to face some new tragedy, and the further the
Mark Satchwill
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really loved this book. It's basically a coming out/falling in love for the first time novel set in 1979. I was a teenager at the time as the novel is set (though slightly younger) and I so identified with the main character and the emotional turmoil, and the author throws in all sorts of cultural references that might not mean much to a younger audience but give a lovely nostalgic feeling to someone of my age who grew up at that time. It made me laugh out loud and shed a tear. Highly enjoyable.
Thomas Doran
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and gripping. I had high expectations for this book and they were definitely met. It was really gripping and I found it hard to put down. It was very funny as well, and the character development throughout the book was wonderful, and I also felt the characters to be somewhat realistically portrayed as well. Highly recommend this book.
Andrew Marshall
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is a sweet and engaging story about coming to terms with who you are set against the seventies in East Dulwich, London. Sadly, you don't really get a sense of place and the era is captured by the usual easy memories that crop up time and again whenever film makers evoke the era - like Abba and Debby Harry. The result is that you don't really feel the writer lived through the period.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. I am not the biggest reader, but I just could not put the book down!
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A sweet little book with just the best characters. I thought it was going to be stagier than it ended up being, but I still had a great time.
Charlotte Coffee
I searched for this book because of the musical by the same name which premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia in October 2019. I saw the musical first, as I was traveling through Atlanta prior to receiving the book. The musical was wonderful - I hope it returns to another (larger) stage at some point.

A wonderful coming-of-age story of a young man living outside of London in the 1970s. Focusing on the main characters exploration to his sexuality as well as his convictions and valu
Scott Matthewman
A fairly standard gay coming of age story. The first person narrative often hints at big events in the main character's past, which would work if the events in question weren't quite so banal and predictable. At some points, the narrative jumps forward several days so that the lead character can talk mysteriously about the events in between. How much better it would be to follow David's story from start to finish, allowing the author to find the dramatic moments in each scene from character rath ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, biography
This is the second re reading of this novel. If you like coming of age novels/autobiographies then you will like this one - especially if you lived through the '70s as you will get the cultural references. It's also a photograph in time for anyone born after 1990 who will be amazed and shocked at what was acceptable in school and on the streets at that time.

For me it wasn't laugh out loud really but humour is very particular to the person so that doesn't really mean anything. It has a balanced
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judith Paterson
Maybe 2 stars is a bit harsh. I had mixed feelings about this one.
In my mind the narator, David, swung from being a pathetic self obsessed wimp to a conflicted young man confused about his sexuality and what he should do about it.
The period detail about bands, fashion and attitudes rang true. I rememember going to Rock against Racism gigs and marches and the nasty way anyone who was a bit different was bullied.
I was amazed that the teacher, Hamish, could get away with being so openly gay - but
Louisa Keron
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqa
Terry Ronald’s novel Becoming Nancy is easy enough to understand. Apparent intelligent and unique Davie Starr is cast as Nancy in the school’s production of Oliver! and he discovers his sexuality with the help of handsome co-star Maxie. Maybe I have a high bar for coming of age stories, but I just viewed it as a dull superficial book.

Let me start off by saying the writing is bloody hilarious. I feel like it’s giving a middle finger to sophisticated elitist readers. The character might be pompou
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read this book because my son is in the new musical, Becoming Nancy, which is based on this story. This is not my usual choice of book to read, due to the prevalence of foul language and crude sexual content. So I really can't recommend it to most of my reading friends. I really liked the writing style and underlying themes of this coming of age novel, but the heavy use of language and content I find offensive made it a somewhat unpleasant read. I've seen an early version of the musical though ...more
Jen Gallagher
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
A wonderful book that brilliantly evokes teenage life in the 1970s. It’s amazing how a book set in 1979 can be so relevant and speak so clearly about modern life, Terry Ronald shows how far we’ve come, and how much more we still have to do. David Starr is believably written, and flawed in all the right ways, just as much as all the adults and other teenagers around him.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible book! I absolutely loved it. My friend took me to go see the musical adaption of it and it stayed pretty true to the story. I adore this novel and recommend it, especially to LGBTQ+ youth and people trying to introduce friends or family to the gay community and the homophobia they face.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books, ya, lgbt
Despite the differences in both time period and gender this resonated with my own experiences as a gay teenager. Great characters and storytelling that make it impossible to do anything but read it in one sitting!
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
Lovely coming of age book. Incredibly funny, warm, and heartfelt. A look at what it meant to be gay in the late 70s in London and how one teenager navigates being out, falling in love and high school. This should be made into a movie, it reads a bit like a screen play.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Funny coming of age story but slightly disturbing in places about how he used girls and his own experience of sexual abuse was dismissed as unimportant. Worth reading but not keeping.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit this isn't a book I normally would pick up. I read very little adult fiction but was pitched it for review saying it was very much a cross over novel and I agreed to give it a go and I'm so glad I did.

I thought David was a brilliant character. We met him as he has just about come clear in his mind about his own sexuality and follow him as he comes out to his friends an family. I though he was really warm and geniune and loved the relationships he had with the people around him.

I lov
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. The synopsis on the back of the book looked promising; music obsessed secondary school kid comes to terms with being gay in 1970's East Dulwich against a backdrop of collisions between the National Front & the Anti Nazi League. But alarm bells started ringing for me when I saw that most of the accolades for this book were from author Terry Ronald's celebrity friends, Kylie and Danni Minogue, and Heat magazine (not known for its literary prowess). ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book details what being gay was like in the seventies for teenagers and it was shocking. I’m not naive enough to think that the things that happened here never happened but I have never experienced them so the horribleness of it all really struck me. I grew up in Bradford in the eighties and so I am no stranger to racism either but being on the outside looking in you do not get the same revulsion as someone living it. The descriptions of the verbal and physical abuse were vivid and disturbi ...more
Library Quine
This is an interesting book, and I was drawn to it for a number of reasons. Geographically speaking it is based in an area that I became familiar with as a student; moving to London south of the river was part adventure, part rebellion for me. The time frame is also one that I was familiar with; the events, the marches, the music - I even attended one of the rallies and concerts described in the book. I haven't read much LGBT lit, and wanted to become more familiar with the genre. But, because I ...more
Carol Peace
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I started this book 2 days ago and I couldnt put it down. The main character David Starr is and adolescent at school when he is picked to play Nancy in the school play of Oliver. The plot is set in the 1970's and the whole music, tv and home life are right there in that era, its a funny but also down to earth portrayal of that era. David takes on the role of is he or isn't he attracted to men and the whole problems that would surround a schoolboy at that time but David seems older than his years ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I adored this book- a kind of "Adrian Mole" for adults....

Story of David, who is coming to terms with his sexuality in the 70's as well as dealing with all the angst of a teenager, school politics, friendships, first love etc. (I'm sure we all remember that time in our lives, gay or otherwise!!)

A very touching and often funny read, all in all, a sweet story inspired by the writers own emotions and experiences. I couldn't put it down and often found myself laughing out loud at Davids family and g
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt, gt, favourites
A beautiful tale of growing up gay in the late 1970s, with scenes that made me cry and others that made me laugh (and even a few that verge on erotica...). A very enjoyable read.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book is a joy and i would read it again and again
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very funny book that I couldn't put down, an emotional journey, a great read, highly recommended!
Mar 08, 2012 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Loved the sound of this but it just didn't grab me, read the first 100 pages or so but it wasn't for me.
Michael Lloyd
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A deftly constructed gay coming-of-age novel, steeped in early-Thatcher era pop culture and with a warm and charming narrative voice to carry the reader through it.
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gay youth in the late 1970s. Loved it, but definitely for older teenagers and adults.
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