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Band Fags!

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  549 ratings  ·  46 reviews
"Ever since I first heard that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross song, 'Endless Love, ' all I've wanted is to find The One. Someone to love. Who will love me back." September, 1982. John Cougar's "Jack and Diane" is on endless radio rotation, and Dallas and Dynasty rule the ratings. Jack Paterno is a straight-A student living in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, with his own At ...more
Paperback, 434 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  549 ratings  ·  46 reviews


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Jeff Erno
Aug 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
When I first began reading this book, I honestly was not too impressed. Actually, I was frustrated and annoyed by the author's writing style. For the first half of the book every paragraph was riddled with incomplete sentences. He also seemed to ignore literaly every grammatical rule in the book. I read his biography and discovered he has a Master's degree in dramatic writing. Go figure. Well, I think it was the fact that I related so well to the pop culture from the 80's and also possibly becau ...more
Geoffrey
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction, humor
I may be a little biased. I was born in suburbs of Detroit in which this book is set, I'm 3-years older than the main character, I really really didn't want to be gay in high school and I was a band fag.

All disclaimers aside, this is a well written coming of age story set in the mid-80's in suburban Michigan. The two main characters, Jack and Brad, are best friends throughout the story as only school age friends can be - Sometimes they are inseparable, sometimes the fight and sometimes they flir
...more
Mark Jordan
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is a valentine to the 1980s, loaded with pop culture references and endless asides. I like that the central story of the book is about the ups and downs of two friends, but the two potential problems for some readers are 1) the amount of non-essential side references (which is staggering), and 2) the fact that the main character, Jack, does everything he can to make one want to smack him. Granted, coming to terms with one's sexuality is a difficult thing for some people, but Jack is su ...more
Madison Parker
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
For someone who went to high school in the 80's, this was a fun trip down memory lane. This book is filled with awesome pop culture references. My favorite was the Swatch watch. Good times. :-) I also really liked the unique writing style.

The main character, Jack, longs for but never really finds love. Not love-love anyway, just the love of his friends. And who wants to hook up with their friends? (Gross!) Okay, that was my poor attempt to copy the writing style, lol.

This is a story of self-dis
...more
David Robeano
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed it - same time period as my coming of age, and filled with great references from that time. Ending was surprisingly disappointing though, just, kind of ended.
Ryan
May 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
From most of the reviews of “Band Fags!” I’ve read it seems like the two things that readers comment on are High School Band and the 80s. While both are a part of the book, the novel is so much more. This novel is about finding yourself and the friendships you gain and lose along the way. It examines the complexities of relationships in the turbulent high school years.

This is the coming-of-age and coming-out story of a high school "band fag" who grew up with his best friend in the suburbs of Det
...more
BookChic Club
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Told over the course of 6 years, though mainly just the high school years, Band Fags! is a fast, witty, and so true tale of finding oneself. The book itself takes place in the '80s, specifically 1982-1988, but the main message and core of the novel is timeless and goes beyond the '80s references. Even if you don't necessarily get all the references (much like myself, though they are usually accompanied with an explanation), Jack's journey is one that anyone can follow along and really get into. ...more
Christopher
Nov 15, 2008 rated it liked it
This was great blast to the past for me...as I grew up and went to high school in the exact same years as this story takes place. The book was kind of the same from beginning to end; but still an enjoyable read especially if you're not really looking for a solid plot, just a fun moment in time.
Scott
Nov 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: glbt
A fun, quick book. Being a Band Fag myself, I saw a lot of my own experiences in the lead character. But I have to say, for being titled "Band Fags!", there seemed to be very little about being in the band.
Ash Rocketship
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was pretty charming! Jack is a solid portrait of a kid struggling with his sexuality on top of other high school issues of identity in the 80s. He’s not always likable, but it’s easy to identify with and understand his issues. The style here is VERY pronounced and is mostly fun, if maybe a little tiring. It’s nice to watch Jack grow and change and I think I’d have even happily followed him even longer.
Elisa Rolle
Band Fags! (and actually being a Band Fag doesn’t mean you are gay, it means you are one of those kids who tags along with all the other kids in the high school band, and usually they are not exactly the most popular kids in the school…) is probably the first “real” coming of age novel I have read; it’s centred around Brad and Jack, band fags and best friends all though-out high school, and even if the external reader can easily see that both of them are gay, they don’t know, or at least Jack do ...more
Paul Decker
Mar 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Find this review and more at The AP Book Club

This book wasn't exactly what I expected. I had just finished reading Geography Club, which was a very fast read, and I was looking for more LGBT coming-of-age high school stories. This novel takes place over 6 years, following the protagonist from middle school to high school. Throughout the book, the reader is given an up close and personal view of the protagonist's thoughts and opinions. The characters were very well written. Each character felt li
...more
Andrea
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A coming-of-age story set in Detroit during the 80s, the same time I came of age, so I can relate. I grew up in NYC - not the same, but there are big-city parallels that are easy to draw. The main character and narrator, Jack, just made sense to me. His train of thought was easy to follow and, while I never questioned my own sexuality, I could understand his process. I related to his struggle to figure out where he fit in. Which group do I really belong to? Am I a nerd? Part of the "in" crowd? W ...more
Amy P.
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I want my children to read this and my children's children so one day they will know the history of the 80's. This book is amazing! If you grew up in the 80's you will especially appreciate this book, and if you didn't...you will still appreciate this book.

As "Band Fag" myself I can definitely relate to this story. Unlike Jack the main character, I could only hack band my freshman year before I gave up. As a fag going through self-discovery in high school, I can relate to Jack's struggles, altho
...more
Ric Faust
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wow...I feel like I lived this story. Though I didn't come out until I was in my 20's, and these boys are in high school, I was a "Band Fag" playing, clarinet, sax, oboe, and piano and I was in Drama, during the 80's. Every song back then had a meaning so that each title is the name of an 80's song is so fitting. (Even today, my iPod is mostly 80's music).

If you've read the other reviews you know that it's about two boys growing up in the 80's and trying to determine if they in fact are, or are
...more
Sarah
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I interlibrary loaned this adult coming-of-age story from Urbana and have to admit I giggled a little bit. It's the early 1980s and what Jack Paterno goes through, I remember. He plays Atari, rolls his jeans in junior high, and wore parachute pants to school. But Jack is a little different. Maybe. He's not sure. He's active in band, and good at it, and therefore he gets called the book title. But is he gay? He has a girlfriend all through junior high. And a lot of high school. He has dates to sc ...more
Beth
Oct 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: glbt
Lots of 80s references woven through a fairly thinly plotted coming-of-age/coming-out novel. The narrator is sympathetic, if annoyingly repetitive. But I laughed or chuckled many times at the classic junior high/high school moments--the author got those dead on. It's not bad for a fluffy read, although the lack of editing and the sloppy, ugly typesetting were a bit distracting. (But of course that's the price I pay for being in my profession!) Ultimately it was a good reminder of how homophobia ...more
Dan C.
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who grew up in the 80s - gay, straight or in between should read this book. More than being about coming-of-age in the 80s and struggling with sexuality, it is also about the relationships that we have in our teenage years and how, like it or not, they change us and shape us into who we become as adults. I think most men can recall having "Best Friends" back then, but few do now. It speaks to the fact that while we do grow up, we never lose the need to connect with each other, no matter w ...more
Emily
Jan 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Band Fags by Frank Anthony Polito is about Jack Paterno as he goes through middle school and high school with his best friend Brad back in the '80s. Jack is convinced that he isn't gay (or, "like that," as he says) --- or at least he is usually convinced. Every now and then he starts to wonder --- like when he finds that he gets excited looking at pictures of Jon-Erik Hexum in Playgirl. I liked the book overall, but I hate to say that I found the main character Jack kind of annoying, even though ...more
Greg
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was freaking awesome. The first person narration was cheesy here and there, to be sure, but in being so exactly captured what journaling was like for a nascent gay kid in the 80s. Eighties songs as chapter titles were a fun nostalgic touch, as well as the yearbook entries at the end of each school year. Just like life, there are serious moments here and there throughout the story, but on the whole, this light-hearted remembrance was sweet and touching and just the right way to wind dow ...more
Ron-michael
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book. I wanted to love it. When it finally got moving, it was great. There was just a bit too much "data dump" of 80's info, especially at the beginning, that it didnt seem there was any story, just "remember this..". It did, however, get better. (nice tie-in to today, actually) and I totally remembered too much of what went on in this book from my own youth. Granted, I was never in band, but the cliques in MI are none different from those in TX.
Eric
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, comedy
What a lovely, charming book. I'll admit, it doesn't have anywhere near enough Band "fag"ness for me (an admitted junior high, high school AND college band fag), but it's a cute coming-of-age tale set in the 80s...and, while it was a bit slow to start (it picked up considerably, for me, once the lead character gets to high school), I'll admit I cried. The story ultimately hit me right where I live, and it's cute, funny, sentimental, bittersweet...and surprisingly real.
Read it.
Stephanie Griffin
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all my friends!
This is a really sweet story of a kid growing up and the conflicts encountered while discovering who he is as a person. He struggles to determine if he is gay, and if he is can he live as a gay person or does he want to be closeted. The story starts in 1982 while he is in 7th grade, and winds up in 1988 as he ventures off to college. In between are the relationships with his friends, most of whom are with him in his schools' bands throughout the years.
~Stephanie
Dustin Todd Rennells
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: band fags
Recommended to Dustin Todd by: Tim Fitzgerald
It really had me going up until I was 3/4 of the way through and decided it was going to be a stupid story about unrequited love. BORING. Bring on some hot man sex.
The story is sweet and pretty much identical to my very own life growing up in the midwest not knowing who was gay and who you could trust or turn to, so you date girls just like everyone else and go on pretending. Awwww... Just wait til I write my memoirs. They'll be a touch juicier!
Bradley
The Queer Book Club I belong to decided to read this book. Full disclosure, I grew up and graduated from Hazel Park so I'm a bit biased. Reading this book is like stepping into a time machine. I love it.
Orlando
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone!
A really solid read with great heart and humanity to it. Gay or straight you will be able to relate to the experiences in this book from "first true love" to that awkward first kiss and all the crazy manic things high school throws at you in between.
Shawn Hamel
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book funny touching and had you totally rooting for the main character. I did at times want to throttle the life out of him but remember the same feelings of wanting to fit in as a teen.
Janice
May 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun, nostalgic read and a perfect homage to the 80's. I was surprised that there wasn't much about band, and more about everything else, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I would definitely read more of his books.
Anthony
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you went to school in the 70's or 80's and especially if you were "into" school... like band or student council or just being a good student... this is a nice fun reminder of better days gone by.
Ray
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it
This was fun, kind of sad content, and not wholly satisfying. And I understand it may have been an attempt to give the character a distinct voice, but the liberal use of exclamation points was really annoying.
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Frank Anthony Polito is an award-winning author and playwright. His published novels include Band Fags (2008 “Best Fiction” – InsightOut Book Club) and Drama Queers (2009 Lambda Literary Award), and the novella “A Christmas to Remember” (the sequel to BAND FAGS!) as featured in the collection Remembering Christmas.

In April 2012, Frank published his first Young Adult novel, Lost in the 90s under hi
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