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Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It's the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone's going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can't stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.

368 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2020

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About the author

Mike Curato

20 books209 followers
MIKE was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. He has been drawing ever since he could hold a pencil. Mike attended Syracuse University and has a BFA in Illustration. After college, he moved to Seattle, where he eventually began a career as a graphic designer. You can see examples of Mike's design work here. In 2012, Mike finally achieved his lifelong goal of becoming a published author & illustrator of children's books when Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (MacMillan) offered him a 3-book deal featuring his character, Little Elliot. The first book in the series, Little Elliot, Big City, debuted August 26th, 2014. Mike currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,302 reviews
Profile Image for Caleb Roehrig.
Author 17 books718 followers
August 31, 2020
I feel uncomfortably seen. Is this what it feels like for straight people every time they read a book or watch a movie? Completely recognized and utterly understood? It’s surreal to realize as an adult how many of my teenage experiences were not unique, because I never saw them represented anywhere.

Parts of FLAMER were hard for me to read, because they felt so personal—which says something about how powerful the narrative is. I’m really, really glad this story exists.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
855 reviews5,868 followers
May 6, 2023
Growing up is hard enough without being the punching bag for all the teenage boys in your school. This is Aiden’s daily hell, finding no peace once he has been labeled the gay kid by his classmates and being bullied for being Filipino as well as weight-shamed. Flamer, the debut graphic novel by Mike Curato, is based on his own frustrating experiences in high school and while it is often a brutal story dealing with bullying and the mental health struggles resulting from it, this is also an uplifting reminder that ‘even if all of them were to forsake you, you are enough.’ As frustrating as the bullying is in the novel is the fact that Flamer has once again been one of the most banned or challenged books of the year, being the 4th most challenged in 2022 (see the full list here). Which is a shame (well, and an attack on intellectual freedoms) as this story gives readers a valuable lesson about self acceptance and endurance that doesn’t sugarcoat reality while still offering a lot of hope and heart.

The use of fire in the artwork is wonderful

This is a story that really hits hard and strikes deep into your heart. While personally it isn’t my favorite art style, I really love the contrast of the black and white with the bright orange and reds of fire that permeate this story. Fire, and the term ‘flamer’, takes on a multitude of meanings, from insults thrown at him, to the idea of damnation. The language in this book is quite rough and very accurately reflects the slurs and abuse of teenage boys from even when I was in high school a decade after this book is set, and conversations on not using language like that wasn’t really mainstream yet. Teachers would ignore slurs against queer students, the word gay was tossed around blithely to mean anything you didn’t like, it was certainly a rough time to be dealing with secret concerns about being bisexual let me tell you. What really struck me was the aspect of Aiden’s internalized guilt as he struggles with acceptance and his Catholicism having taught him that being gay was a sin:
I know I'm not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I HATE boys. They are mean and scary, and they're always destroying something or saying something dumb or both. We learned at school how bad homosexuality is. It's a sin. Gay people do bad things. And I'm not a bad person. I try to do good. All the time. So I couldn't be gay.

Having been raised Catholic, this hit home. I’ll never forget watching Star Wars Episode II in theaters and having it very much dawn on me that I wasn’t fully straight every time Obi-Wan came on screen and also the absolute horror of this revelation due to what I’ve been told that meant. Because I sure didn’t feel like a demon. And in that culture it is difficult to know who to even talk to, because it still is an issue that people see as a hard-line. I’ve seen friends lose best friends or their own families from simply coming out. This is a great book for those who need that comfort.

Which is why it is appalling this is being banned all over the US, and that is part of a much larger conversation the stories of queer folks and people of color being erased and strategically removing language that allows people to understand and express their identities. It is a constant headline in the US right now, with challenges on the rise, with 2022 being a significant increase:
This comes amongst growing concern over the harrassment against library staff and bomb threats against libraries, and groups openly promoting the use of violence against libraries and schools to achieve their goals. Which on the surface is removing books, but also a deeper impulse of eroding public institutions and harnessing government to override people’s intellectual freedoms and librarianship. Flamer is a frequent target of this due to LGBTQ content, which is frustrating as, in a conversation with PEN America, Mike Curato says that the aim of this book is suicide prevention. He adds:
This is a book about telling someone that regardless of how someone may disagree with who you are as a person, you still deserve to be here. There is a place for you, and no one has the right to take that away.

For this purpose, the book includes information on suicide prevention and offers many resources and hotlines. Curato says that a big issue with book challenges and bans of books such as his own is that it perpetuates the culture of shame that this book grapples against.

these are experiences that most teenagers go through. Some parents would prefer their children read about uncomfortable topics in a book because it’s a very safe place to learn. They can digest it at their own pace. They can put the book down if they want to. And then I think there are some parents that would rather just uphold a taboo and not talk about anything. And all that does is just perpetuate this cycle of shame.

This is a wonderful book with a lot of hope. Flamer deals with a lot of hard topics, but many will see themselves in it and find comfort there. It is pretty fun, for all the heaviness and bullying, taking place mostly during a boy scouts summer camp and a long summer of self discovery, acceptance and more. A worthwhile read.


Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
September 26, 2020
"I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

"I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel...unsafe."

Mike Curato's Flamer is a powerful, emotional graphic novel about friendship, self-esteem, sexuality, and the battle between being like everyone else to “fit in” and being yourself. It's about feeling so down, so alone, that you don't know what to do or where to turn.

It's the summer before Aiden is scheduled to start high school. He's nervous about it—as much as he hopes it will be a different experience than middle school, he worries that he'll just be trading one set of bullies for another. He's tired of being teased for everything. In middle school, bullies called him gay, they made fun of his being pudgy, not being particularly athletic, and for being half-Filipino. He hated always having to be on guard, and isn't looking forward to high school for the very same reason.

But now, Aiden is in his happy place: scouting camp. He feels a little more a part of things there, and finds things he's good at, like making and tending to the campfire, helping cook, weaving bracelets, and making people laugh. But this year, there are bullies at camp, too, and it's causing him to doubt himself. And for reasons he doesn't understand, he can't stop thinking about his friend Elias, and it's making things weird for him—and it threatens to ruin their friendship and his whole summer, too.

For a graphic novel, Flamer really packs a punch. It deals with serious issues, such as thoughts of suicide, which are sadly all too common in teenagers, especially those struggling with their identities and sexuality. There is a tremendous amount of emotion, pain, and hope packed into Curato's illustrations and words.

This really was good and it struck a chord with me emotionally. I definitely identified with Aiden in a number of ways. Flamer is based on Curato’s own experiences, and you can feel that connection on every page. It reminded me how beautiful it is to find friends who “get” you, even if it may take longer than you’d hope.

I hope we'll see Aiden again in another book!

I was fortunate to be part of the blog tour for this book. Storygram Tours, Fierce Reads, Henry Holt & Company, and Mike Curato provided me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Rick.
2,383 reviews
May 9, 2023
I don’t have words right now. I just finished it and I’m still crying too much. A review is going to have to wait. But this is one of the most personal, deeply moving and beautiful stories I’ve ever read.

Thank you Mike Curato for writing this. Thank you.

Addition: after a day of thinking about this story and not being able to get it out of my mind for very long, I find myself continually coming back to Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s quote that “This book will save lives.” Truthfully, there is really nothing else that can be added. This is probably the highest praise that any literary work could earn. And it is not probably, or even likely to be true. This book will save lives. Of this I have absolutely no question that this is not hyperbole or exaggeration, but a plain and unadorned statement of fact.

Update: Why can’t I give this book a 10-star review? Because on a 5-star scale this book deserves 10-stars. Even knowing what’s coming and how it’s going to resolve, rereading does not diminish in any way the impact of Aiden’s conflict and this very personal narrative. The art is perfect. The gray tones and the splashes of red, it is a perfect, perfect package.

Update: Recently this book has been facing many challenges in attempts to get the volume banned from library and school shelves. The people behind these attempts are the same people who repeatedly refuse to recognize that a ban on assault weapons would decrease the ability of deranged individuals to murder large numbers of people, yet they continue to prioritize book banning as a means to keep children safe. Clearly, they really have zero interest in keeping children safe.
Profile Image for Dahlia.
Author 19 books2,396 followers
November 23, 2020
Me before reading: “That blurb says it’s gonna save lives? Seriously?”

Me after reading: “Oh. Okay, yeah.”

This graphic novel reads so deeply personal, it’s impossible not to imagine how many queer kids (especially gay boys) could read it from cover to cover with their hearts in their throats. I will flat-out admit I cried. But it’s so wonderfully hopeful, even with all its brutality, and you just can’t not want every kid who needs it to find it. And maybe some grownups too.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,046 reviews3,448 followers
August 18, 2020
This one is a little hard to review because I'm not the intended audience. I'll be honest though, I was incredibly uncomfortable reading about young teen boys making homophobic jokes, masturbating together in a dark tent (the MC was also very uncomfortable with this) and getting repeated discussions of a 14-year-old boys introduction to porn, masturbation, and sexy dreams. Really not things I want to be thinking about. (Also, it's set in 1995 but that plus the unaddressed rampant bullying makes me wonder if I ever want to send my sons to anything similar?)

That said, I do think this offers a raw and personal look into what it's like to be figuring out your sexuality when you don't fit in with everyone around you, you were raised with conservative religious values, and also feeling ostracized due to racial identity. The main character is at a Boy Scouts camp the summer before high school, slowly recognizing he has a crush on his roommate, and dealing with pretty severe bullying that is never adequately dealt with by camp staff. It's a lot, especially as a graphic novel. But I also imagine there are readers who need this and may feel seen by it and I do think there is value offering own voices narratives that address issues like racism and homophobia. I'm not entirely sure how the 1995 setting (because I don't think everything would be quite the same today) will read for actual teenagers, so I hope we get some own voices teen reviewers of this one. I received an advance copy for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Content warnings include repeated homophobic jokes and slurs including MANY uses of fa**ot, racist jokes and slurs toward Asian idenity, suicidal ideation, incurred fat-shaming, teen sexuality including masturbation, group masturbation, pornography, sexual dreams.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,950 reviews38 followers
May 1, 2023
I decided to read this book after learning that it is one of the most banned and challenged books in America due to the inclusion of "LGBTQIA+ content" and "claims that it is sexually explicit" per the American Library Association (ALA). I will just say that there are 359 pages and few have sexual content. In my opinion the content is true to how teens think, talk and behave with each other and toward each other. The overall message is one of hope and inclusion for young people.

Flamer, written by Mike Curato is about his real-life experiences as a middle and high school student while he was growing up in America. Curato, now in his 40s, didn't have any role models when he was a teen. I read an interview on the Pen America website between Lisa Tolin and Curato and the follow words hit home: "when I was 14, I thought I was alone, I thought no one else is like me, and I was a total freak."

I think this must be a universal feeling for 14 year olds worldwide. I remember feeling truly alone when I was 14, and I am really glad Flamer exists, as many young people will identify with the contents and take heart. In fact, Curato states during the interview that the book is "focused on identity and self-preservation" and "that this is a book about suicide prevention."

Favorite lines: "Scout regulation states that a fire has to be "hand-touch" out before leaving it unattended. But sometimes, even when you think the fire is out... you're wrong. My life feels like a mess. There are people I still don't know how to deal with... a family I don't know how to live with... and there are feelings inside me that scare me to death. But today I discovered... this fire is done burning."
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
October 20, 2020
"I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both."

"I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe."

A book about a kid, Aidan, who is constantly bullied in middle school for being "overweight" and because he is identified by these straight boys as gay. So school is not a safe place for him, mostly miserable, but interestingly enough Boy Scout Camp becomes his safe(r) place, where he is lucky enough to be friended by a popular athlete who looks out for him a bit. He's still bullied here, but he also loves the outdoors, all the actvities, the comaraderie. He feels like he has a place here.

The central trope in the book through which to see the action, referreed to in the title is a flame. A flamer might be a troll, a person who "burns" you with an insult, and whilethe solutions Aidan comes up with to being bullied are not unique--he finds supportive friends, he gets good at what he does--he also finds he can "flame" back at his bullies with stinging comebacks. Also, he wonders if his actions and thoughts will land him in the flames of Hell, though in the end he comes to embrace the flame of his passions--that which burns inside of him. He's that kind of a flamer, which is a good thing.

This is set in 1995, so the language seems like it is more brutal at that time than it woud be now, but I'm not sure as I live in a large midwestern city where there maybe some greater safety in numbers? And while I still hear some homophobic slurs here still, it seems I hear less than I used ton in the schools (where I regularly am), but I am not viewed and bullied as gay, either, so consider the source.

As someone who was himself a Cub and Boy Scout until it became politically uncool to be involved in a teen organization seemngly associated with the military, yet one who came back to be a scout leader for his sons and fought at a local and national level for the inclusion/recognition of gay leaders in the Boy Scouts, I was really interested in the scouting aspect of the story--both a little proud that camp became a haven for him and yet anguished by his treatment still by some of the boys. This can be a painful story, but it seems to me really important to read and know about. My teenaged kids are reading it.
Profile Image for Danielle.
Author 2 books228 followers
January 25, 2021
This book feels like a love letter to Mike Curato's younger self (though not strictly a memoir). A love letter to any queer kid struggling with their identity in systems like a church or scout troop or school that leaves them alone and confused and full of unwarranted shame. A letter to say, you are loved. You are light. Keep your sacred flame burning.
Profile Image for Eti.
124 reviews19 followers
May 5, 2020
A powerful, poignant, read-in-one-sitting masterpiece.
"In this darkness we can find an inner light to guide us. And there is light in you, even if you can't see it."
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,288 reviews173 followers
November 10, 2020
The bullying, homophobia, and racism are pretty unrelenting in this tale of a 14-year-old Filipino American boy coming to terms with his sexual identity during the final days of a Boy Scout summer camp. It ground me down as a reader, and even so I cannot even begin to imagine how much worse it would be to live it.

It's a pretty depressing takedown of how early toxic masculinity is ingrained in our children and of the Boy Scouts in general. It suffers a bit from its inevitability and goes so deep into its tailspin that it is hard for the ending to totally pull it back up from the crash and burn being signaled.

Even though this is a work of fiction, that scene with the four boys and the pop bottle in the tent is so outrageous and gross I have to believe it really happened.

Trigger warning:
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,763 reviews649 followers
June 13, 2021
This graphic novel almost reads like a memoir, it's so personal. It hit me really hard, the way this Filipino gay boy in the 90s was struggling with homophobic bullying and feeling unable to accept himself. And it hits me even harder that this story is still needed for so many readers, almost 30 years later.
Profile Image for Deborah.
Author 20 books188 followers
September 4, 2020
This beautifully written and bravely honest book needs to be in EVERY library and middle school classroom. As the quote on the cover says—and this is not an overstatement—it "will save lives."
Profile Image for BookChampions.
1,184 reviews108 followers
September 15, 2020
On the cover of the new queer YA graphic novel, *Flamer*, Jarrett Krosoczka declares, "This book will save lives." By the end of the book (and without spoiling too much), I knew exactly what he meant.

This book is for any queer or questioning kid (or adult with wounds to heal) who ever questioned their worth, slipped into despair, or wondered if the pains of isolation would ever end.

Mike Curato focuses on Aiden's finals days of summer (at a boy scout camp) before beginning high school. The story and drawings are handled with sensitivity and daring; I truly feared for Aiden but I promise there is no exploitation in this book.

I really felt the body-ness of the drawings, which is definitely a benefit of the graphic novel. I found it to be very easy to relate to Aiden's reactions every time he heard the word faggot or winced at taking off his shirt or became self-aware of the sound of his voice. Possibly because I still carry very similar boyhood trauma of my own in my bones.

There is power in storytelling like this, and this is why stories CAN heal people. This is one of the most personal graphic novels I've read since reading Craig Thompson's *Blankets* do many years ago. Although it is fiction, it really feels like "reading a life," and Curato hands us all HOPE. Please take an hour or two out of your life and spend time with *Flamer*.
1,157 reviews5 followers
September 29, 2020
Mike Curato did something extraordinary with this book and I wish I had had access to something like it when I was Aiden's age. Knowing that you're gay and not knowing how to live as a gay person as a young teenager is a really scary prospect - particularly for boys who have to perform their masculinity or else get called a faggot, or beaten. I know that it was scary for me.
Aiden is at boy scout camp, which he normally loves, but this time there are boys who are calling him out for being different. He's grappling with his gayness, his religion, his body image, and a fear of bein found out. His thoughts and anxieties, and (as a scout myself) the joys felt so genuine. I know that there are going to be plenty of kids that read this book that will absolutely see themselves in Aiden's experiences. I know I did. It is extraordinary that books like this even exist, since they didn't back in the dark ages.
Mike and I went to high school together, and I'm sure we had the same people making our lives difficult. I just wish we had been able to be out to each other, so we could have started our own posse of badass little queers standing up to the assholes. Congrats, Mike. This book is amazing.
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
965 reviews741 followers
July 10, 2021
Raw, deeply emotional and important.

This is actually painful to read (though not all the time since there are also happy and light moments) with all the bullying, homophobic remarks and racism. Flamer is a hell of a book that tells a story of struggle, the process of identifying oneself and acceptance. The illustrations depicts perfectly the emotions the story wants you to feel. I can't stress it enough but I'm glad that this book exists.
261 reviews8 followers
July 5, 2022
I read this book to form my own opinion. It has been highlighted in the state where I live as a book that should be immediately removed from school libraries due to reports of "pornographic" and "sensitive content." A few of the illustration panels were pulled out of the book to form a Facebook post and called out for the content that strikes many as illegal content for school libraries. I was asked by a friend for my opinion as to its appropriateness for "children". I responded that in general, I believe context matters, rather than simple presence or absence of subject matter. So I got the book from the library and read it for myself. I can now say the following:
1) This book is appropriate for high school libraries
2) This book does not violate any laws in my state for sensitive/pornographic content in school libraries.
3) This book has real artistic and literary value for teenage students (so many great conversations could be had about fire and flame as a metaphor for love and life, or the use of color in the illustrations to speak to the themes, for example)
3) The questionable content, when returned to the narrative in context, serves to support many themes of the book and the overall critical message that life is precious and worth living. I would even say the questionable content involving language or masturbation is necessary to expose the common misconception of LGBTQ people being the first ones to introduce sexuality into an otherwise chaste situation.
4) This book centers the experience of a closeted Filipino teenager amazingly without vilifying anyone else in the book, no matter how obtuse or rude. You can tell the author has a lot of respect for scouting and for the best intentions of all his peers (okay, except maybe the Jr. High bully who exists only in his memory). If someone is concerned that this book erases straight experiences in the interest of "family values," they do not have a strong argument to support it.

I was very moved by the turning point. Curato did such a good job of showing how quickly the protagonist, Aiden, could lose his support system and feel alone, and how kind words from a few good friends could support his choice to stay alive. Everyone can benefit from the crux of this book: "Even if they all forsake you, you are enough."

Don't ban this book from schools.
Profile Image for Ryan.
527 reviews
September 30, 2020
I picked up at Flamer after seeing the post by my friend Larry a couple weeks ago. There have been so many good graphic novels lately with LGBTQ representation and this is another to add to your list.

Aiden is a young man in his last week of Boy Scout camp before starting high school. He is ruthlessly mocked for his Filipino heritage, his feminine traits, puffiness, lack of athleticism. As Aiden progresses through he week he deals with bullies and begins to question his sexuality. Oof, this one hits close to home. I can relate to Aiden as a fat, gay kid in scouting in junior high. I did not love it. My best friend and I called either other the “dainty scouts” because we knew we were not like the other boys. Summer camp with communal showers, lack of any desire to play sports, and difficulty connecting to other boys was a challenge.

The writing here is very tight with a direct story that will appeal to younger kids. But this book is so layered. The way Curato weaves in themes of martyrdom, self-esteem, and becoming who you are in a magnificent way. By combining images of the St. Sebastian and Catholic imagery with Jean Grey/Phoenix from the X-Men was excellent. Fire is a metaphor throughout this story. The illustrations look like ash, beautiful, like rough sketches, but refined . The only colors in this book are shades of red, orange, and yellow used perfectly to highlight important thematic moments. I am still thinking of all of the connections days later. It’s rare to find this attention to detail and story, theme, and character so tightly knit together in a book for young people. The personal connection and immense care in each page is apparent. I loved this book and I hope more people read it. Anyone who feels like an outsider at times can benefit from this novel. CW: self harm. ★★★★★ • Hardcover • Graphic Novel, Fiction, LGBTQ • Published by Henry Holt on 9/1/2020. ◾︎
Profile Image for David.
580 reviews137 followers
July 31, 2021
Powerful story of Aiden as he questions himself at summer camp. Set in 1995, Aiden is coming from St. Michael 8th grade to go to the public high school next year and is worried. He is suppressing gay feelings since he has been taught they are wrong. He is a little overweight, and with part Filipino background, so gets bullied in this book on all these fronts (fat, oriental, faggot) to the point of feeling suicidal. Lots of triggers in this book, so be careful. For as tough as camp seems to be, it is still better than home with parents that argue constantly.

I can file this book under biography/historical fiction as the author acknowledges his own very tough early years. There is strong realism in this story, told through an easy-to-read graphical format.

On a very positive side, Aiden is a great kid. He is friendly. He can tell an occasional witty joke. He walks away from most confrontations. He has a great pen-pal girl that supports him. He recognizes the good leaders at his camp. He is smart and wants to learn. For those people that confide to him, he is an excellent listener.

I did not like the camp counselors that ignored obvious problems and behaviors by various kids. But this is realistic. The 1995 setting recalls days of less-screening of these underpaid/volunteer summer camp leaders. It made me want to step into the story and say "I would have seen this and behaved differently." At least I hope.

Personally, I had a great time in middle school (grades 6,7,8), but I was admittedly clueless. I was busy learning and ignored rumors. But these are universally tough years for kids. This book does a truthful depiction of those feelings.
Profile Image for Iris.
550 reviews253 followers
December 19, 2021
this was really, really powerful. a lot of it didn't hit home for me personally, but it was still a really engaging and beautiful read, and more importantly, I think it's the sort of book that will mean the world to the people it does hit home for. just . . . wow

Trigger warnings:
Profile Image for metempsicoso.
251 reviews192 followers
August 3, 2021
Quando ho acquistato questo volume per farlo rientrare nel patrimonio della biblioteca in cui lavoro, l'ho fatto perché di una storia di formazione queer, rivolto a lettori molto giovani, c'era un grande bisogno. Credo che, con qualche piccola riserva, "Flamer" centri l'obbiettivo.
Il protagonista, nerd e sensibile, sovrappeso e di discendenza asiatica, con un pesante retaggio cattolico, non si amalgama. Lo sport lo ripugna, alcuni sui tratti femminili non passano inosservati, rifugge la dinamica del branco: è la miscela perfetta, nota e forse un po' stereotipata, della vittima di bullismo. A scuola, infatti, lo insultano e a volte le prende. A casa, a prenderle è sua mamma, dal marito [con una dinamica famigliare che, però, avrebbe dovuto decisamente approfondita di più]. Lo scenario della vicenda, però, è l'estate del 1995, quella che finirà con il primo anno di superiori, e il protagonista, tra guide più o meno capaci e compagni e amici più o meno attenti, la passa in un centro estivo a fare lo scout. All'orizzonte, come è ovvio, c'è la paura del cambiamento. Nel petto questa fiamma difficile da arginare, quella di chi è diverso.
Come è ovvio, è una parabola di accettazione. Si sviluppa discretamente: butta un po' troppa carne al fuoco, ma non troppa da spegnerlo, poi si chiude in modo bizzarro e frettoloso senza grandi risposte. Più con un momento epifanico (con tanto di falò).
Carino, rincuorante e necessario.
Male non farà, anche se credo comunicherà più con la parte più anziana della comunità queer - perché si sa che effetto fa la nostalgia -, piuttosto che con i dodicenni di oggi, cresciuti su internet e non a far cesti di vimini.
Considerato però quanto per una persona queer, fino a qualche anno fa, fosse difficile trovare riferimenti culturali senza scavare con fatica - e a volte nel torbido -, non ci si può lamentarsene.

Ah sì, me ne ero quasi dimenticato e torno sul luogo del misfatto. Nei testi inseriti alla fine del libro (una storia di come il volume è nato e una serie di indicazioni per le persone queer in difficoltà *Sic*) si usa per due volte in modo improprio la parola "outing", intendendola come "coming out". Abbastanza sconsolante, lasciatemelo dire.
Non so se è un demerito del traduttore - non credo - o della redazione, ma spero che nelle eventuali ristampe questa cosa venga sistemata.
85 reviews
May 11, 2023
Read as it was one of the top ten (13) most challenges books of 2022 according to the American Library Association. I loved how real and personal this is for a middle-grade book, as it was reflective of those feelings and thoughts in that age, and can really be an opening for this population in a format (graphic novel) that is tangible. It's a coming of age and starting to realize his sexuality in the midst of bullying, catholicism, and exclusion of people who are queer.
I believe the reason it was challenged was the LGBTQIA+ aspect and the due to "sexual content".... I didn't really see any of that- there were jokes about anatomy, which is pretty typical for the demographic, which I think makes the story and the experience even more realistic and relatable.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,404 reviews34 followers
February 11, 2021
This review can also be found on my blog: https://graphicnovelty2.com/2021/02/1...

Flamer by Mike Curato is a layered graphic novel set in 1995 about a teen who is struggling with the growing realization that he is gay.

Aidan is a Filipino-American Boy Scout who is attending summer scout camp and struggles with the toxic masculinity that the other boys demonstrate. However, despite these issues, he feels more at home with his troop, after enduring worse treatment in middle school. Nervous about transferring schools to avoid his bullies, he wonders if high school will be more of the same, so this pause between the known and unknown is a time of growth for Aidan.

A devout Catholic, he finds solace in his church, but that has also fueled his worries that he will be cast out and deemed a sinner if he reveals that he is gay. Plus, all the messages that he receives from others indicate that being gay is wrong, and in addition, he worries he would be kicked out of scouts, for at that time gay males were not allowed in scouting. His attraction to males is pushed down, for he is afraid of the ramifications with his family, friends and faith if he reveals what he truly feels.

Aidan’s friendship with his friend Elias is put to the test when Aidan’s growing attraction to him is acted upon, and Elias reacts negatively. Afraid that he has jeopardized everything, Aidan debates committing suicide but is saved by an epiphany. By the end of the story, Aidan becomes more comfortable with himself and his future.

Author and illustrator Mike Curato’s narrative is all the stronger because it is semi-autobiographical and is #ownvoices as he is gay. His sketchy black and white drawings, with limited orange and red highlights, captures teen angst and will be very appealing to a YA audience. A mix of fantasy and reality is woven together to tell a strong tale of self-discovery and acceptance. At times the narrative can become very heavy and might benefit from some trigger warnings as the homophobia and suicide attempt could be upsetting to some readers. However, I believe that LGBTQ+ readers will feel seen, and others might gain a greater understanding of their peer’s lives.
Profile Image for Zac.
180 reviews44 followers
June 15, 2021
Flamer is an extremely powerful graphic novel that all teenage boys should read. It’s incredibly authentic, especially the language the characters use. It deals with bullying, body image, sexual identity, homophobia, and male friendships. As Jarrett Krosoczka says in the front cover ‘This book will save lives.’ It’s a book that tells readers that no matter how bad things may seem there is always someone who loves you and cares about you.

Aiden is away at Scout camp in the summer between middle school and high school. Everyone is changing around him and he’s terrified of going to high school. He is bullied at school and camp and he knows that it will just get worse at high school. His dad is physically and verbally abusive, so camp is a reprieve from home life. As he navigates friendships, Aiden also tries to figure out feelings he is having for one of his fellow Scouts, Elias. Aiden knows that he’s not gay because he hates boys and how they behave, but he can’t seem to stop thinking about Elias. Aiden starts to feel like everything is going wrong and makes a decision that affect those around him.

Mike’s illustrations are mostly black and white, with bursts of flame throughout the story and red to signify anger and fear. The use of colour signifies something significant happening, and this is especially the case in the last section of the story. These bursts of colour add power to the story.

I will be thinking about this book for a long time. I highly recommend it for high school libraries, although I would recommend librarians read it first so they are aware of the content.
Profile Image for Maia.
Author 27 books2,264 followers
December 22, 2020
Aiden has a rough home life, and has been constantly teased at his Catholic elementary school, but he finds a rhythm and a group of friends in the Boy Scouts. It's the summer before his first year of high school and he's afraid of standing out and getting targeted by even larger bullies. He's short, pudgy, Filipino and deeply closeted. At summer camp he wrestles with name-calling and a crush he won't admit. But he also digs down and finds a growing well of self-confidence and the ability to stand up for himself. I personally have a hard time relating to queer stories with strong religious themes, but I'm really glad to see this book out in the world. The artwork is simple and effective, with some really beautiful double page spreads.
Profile Image for zac carter.
70 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2020
on the cover of this book, there is a single line of praise from another author: “this book will save lives.” i truly believe this. from the very beginning i felt flamer would’ve been a life-changing narrative to have read when i was a young queer kid doing my best to navigate violent homophobia and toxic masculinity. the story and its intimate nature was familiar, honest, tender. aiden, the protagonist, takes so many risks, and that bravery was... remarkable. queer people are remarkable. i recommend this to everyone. it’s so hard to accurately depict queer adolescence and curato does it. he really really does.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
925 reviews129 followers
October 24, 2022
"I know I'm not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They're mean, and scary, and they're always destroying something or saying something dumb or both."

A beautiful comics about not fitting in, but trying very hard to do so and yet not to lose yourself.

Aiden is a great character, who shows teenagers that you can be different and unique. And there always will be people who'll accept you for yourself.

I very much enjoyed the art style as well, black and white with bits of red. It makes the important things stand out.

Even though in Russia it's 18+, I'd definitely recommend it to all the teenagers. A must.
Profile Image for Morgan.
546 reviews
September 17, 2020
This book. This book this book this book this book.

From author Mike Curato's afterword:

"And although living is scary when we continue to suffer, I would do it all over again to be able to write this book for you. To hope. To dream. To want love. These are dangerous acts. Fear and hope are bound up together inside of us, alongside our flaws and our divinity. In this darkness, we can find an inner light to guide us. And there is light in you, even if you can't see it."
Profile Image for TJ.
697 reviews53 followers
February 1, 2021
Wow, this was such a personal, heartfelt, important story. Sadly, I related to a lot of it, but that shows just how important this story is; so many kids will connect to it and see themselves. There’s a dark portion of the book, but it leads to a message of hope in the end. I can’t recommend this book enough, and I personally adored the X-Men portions (Jean Grey was my favorite as a kid too!). 5/5 stars and a new favorite graphic novel.
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