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Freak Show

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,910 ratings  ·  348 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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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,910 ratings  ·  348 reviews

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Feb 20, 2008 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 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.


Melissa **Just Really Loves Musicals**

EVERYBODY PICK THIS BOOK UP RIGHT NOW. I'm not kidding. People need to read this. This book is so underated and unknown and it needs to become more famous. I listened to this on audible and it was the best decision I've ever made. This audiobook was incredible. The narrator did a BRILLIANT job of bringing Billy's voice to life. I don't think I would've loved this book nearly as much if I had read it rather than listened to it.

I admit in the very beginning it was a bit weird and slow, and I wasn
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to hhhhhhhhh 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
Nov 25, 2012 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
Mar 14, 2012 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 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Undomiel Books (Rosie)
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was a simple yet heartwarming tale about a gay teen who has already come to terms with his identity, but is strugglng to be accepted by others.

Billy was slightly judgemental towards others at time but I took this to have stemmed from his lifetime of being judged by others, including his own parents who move him between homes when its "their turn to deal with him". Also, he's a teen. We're all a bit judgey at that confusing time in our lives, and so its completely understan
chan ☆
Jul 29, 2008 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 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
Ulysses Dietz
Apr 14, 2016 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.
Feb 20, 2009 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 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
Sep 18, 2007 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.
Feb 15, 2008 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.
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is over-the-top, drenched in glitter and if you're following all the pop culture references, a great primer in drag and camp. Billy Bloom is the heroine I needed to add, I would say sunshine, but a disco ball is more his style, to a gloomy winter day. ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rainbow-read
The pop cultural references date the book making an otherwise interesting tale feel old and unrelevant
Sep 21, 2010 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
Kelly Herta
Sep 27, 2011 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 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens 14 and up
Shelves: youngadult, glbt, humor
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
Alma Zacarias
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*By the way I listened to the audiobook and it was the best decision ever, it really made Billy seem unique and real. Totally recommend the audiobook.
OMG! I loved it so much, I had never read book about a character that identified as a drag queen, and this was an amazingly fun story to start with. I’ve trying to expand my reading on the lgbt community besides gay characters. This is a story about courage, confusion and confidence to be yourself even when you can’t change the world around you. I
Danielle Routh
Jun 11, 2016 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 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. ...more
Virginia Osborne
Feb 20, 2015 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.
Aug 15, 2007 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.
Dec 02, 2015 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.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-reads, 2010-reads
Touching book. He is his own hero!
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The Backlot Gay B...: Freak Show, by James St. James 2 17 Apr 14, 2016 05:35PM  
About Freak Show...warning: spoilers! 1 61 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.

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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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