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When You Call My Name

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Tucker Shaw’s When You Call My Name is a heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York City in 1990 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Named "this summer's most powerful LGBTQ+ novel" by GAY TIMES, this book is perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H. K. Choi.

Film fanatic Adam is seventeen and being asked out on his first date—and the guy is cute. Heart racing, Adam accepts, quickly falling in love with Callum like the movies always promised.

Fashion-obsessed Ben is eighteen and has just left his home upstate after his mother discovers his hidden stash of gay magazines. When he comes to New York City, Ben’s sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor.

Then Callum disappears, leaving Adam heartbroken, and Ben finds out his new world is more closed-minded than he thought. When Adam finally tracks Callum down, he learns the guy he loves is very ill. And in a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, forever changing each other’s lives. As both begin to open their eyes to the possibilities of queer love and life, they realize sometimes the only people who can help you are the people who can really see you—in all your messy glory.

A love letter to New York and the liberating power of queer friendship, When You Call My Name is a hopeful novel about the pivotal moments of our youth that break our hearts and the people who help us put them back together.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2022

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About the author

Tucker Shaw

25 books102 followers
Tucker Shaw's new YA novel, WHEN YOU CALL MY NAME, follows two gay teenagers during the height of the AIDS crisis in New York City in 1990. In hard times, nothing is more powerful than friendship.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 431 reviews
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
505 reviews337 followers
February 10, 2022
For teens who want to know more about AIDS. For 40- and 50-somethings who remember those years. For lovers of It’s a Sin. Actually, for anyone who cherishes unforgettable books.

When You Call My Name is not perfect, the pop references were a bit too much, and still, I want to rate this story a million stars. Pitched as a young adult novel, When You Call My Name is so much more. It’s a dedication to all those young people who lost their lives to AIDS. A dedication to the late eighties and early nineties. A dedication to queer people. A dedication to New York. And this review is my dedication to Callum. Sweet Callum. Lovable Callum. Beautiful Callum. Endless Callum.

I’m speechless; I don’t have many words to say. And at the same time, I want to shout out about When You Call My Name. Because the writing is so vivid and descriptive, I could feel the wind, see the parks, hear the traffic, smell the food. And because the story made me feel so much. I smiled and I cried and I got goosebumps and I watched in the distance. I hugged my cats and family. I thought of those boys I knew back then, Rick and Rick, and the red-head with his harem full of girls (if you ever read this, you know it’s you). I hope they’re still alive and doing well. And when I was done staring and hugging and musing, this story pulled the corners of my mouth up again and made my belly flutter and put lumps in my throat. And when I finished the story and thought I was done crying, tears leaped in my eyes again. I cried massive, beautiful tears. Because of the author’s note. Tucker, I can’t remember ever crying so much because of an author’s note in the back of a book. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Those three beautiful boys will always have a piece of my heart.

I received an ARC from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Profile Image for Amina .
389 reviews217 followers
June 28, 2023
✰ 5 stars ✰

"Maybe, maybe we can survive together, no matter what they want to do to us out there. They don’t know that their world is fake and ours is real."


How can I find the words to describe the emotional wreck When You Call My Name left me? How can I explain the sucker punch to my soul Tucker Shaw's beautiful story hit me with? How can I describe Adam & Ben and how I am still thinking about how their relationship unfolded in front of me? 😢😢

Ben, who's painfully 'been caught in someone else's love story' ? Adam, who's first love was a boy, who had a love for music and whose only dream was to be a famous conductor? Ben, who always happened to cross paths with Adam, when he would be at his absolute worst? Adam, who refused to leave the side of the boy he loved, as he watched his life slowly leave him? Adam and Ben, two gay boys, living in New York in 1990, when the fear of AIDS was rampant and homosexuals were the target of everyone's scorn and ridicule. Adam and Ben, who despite all adversities, simply found their way to each other, when they least expected it, but perhaps, when they needed each other the most.

This was a wonderful heart-wrenching story on a sensitive matter that just - I cannot even articulate my words, because I will not do it justice. Maybe I'm making too much of it, some might even say it's overly sentimental or unbelievable, it wasn't to me - it was something special, a story I have not read the likes of yet, so maybe that's why it stood out so much for me. 💕💕

I loved that Adam and Ben were two boys who've grown up with two very different outlooks of how people regard people who are gay. Adam had grown up with a loving supportive family that didn't treat his sexuality as an issue, whereas Ben's own mother refused to acknowledge who he is. It is with that, we are treated to two different lifestyles of tolerance and views, and how they just try to belong in a world that won't even acknowledge them. And I loved both aspects - the vibrant colorful imagery of Ben's journey into the world of fashion designing was a wonderful balance to the overwhelmingly emotional and personal moments of Adam's own family. I loved how seamlessly Ben and Adam's paths crossed - it was so very believable and with such a tender gentle touch but with such vivid intensity, I just wanted to envelop them in a hug, even Callum, and just say 'it'll be okay'. 🥺🥺🥺

There were also various passages interspersed throughout the book, which focused on a specific 'tell me when' - and at first, I thought that it was referring to either of the protagonist's thoughts and pasts. But, then it hit me that it wasn't - it was the stories that belonged to the various voices of lives that were tragically cut short, or maybe it was the inner voice of Callum - the protagonist we didn't get to know much into, and this was Tucker Shaw's way to give us the background into his life. Whoever it may have belonged to, each cut something so deep within me - each was so achingly poetic, but this one right here was the one that hurt me the most --

"Tell me why you don’t sleep. I didn’t say goodbye. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t even try to."

Adam and Callum - how can I NOT mention their love story, because so much of this WAS their story. Callum was Adam's first love - since that day he introduced himself to Adam at the record store where he worked - 'He didn't know yet that he would remember this name forever,' or that he would be his first true love, and one that he could not hold onto. And how he tried so hard to be there for him, to give him his love and his support. How his heart ached that he couldn't do anything to alleviate his pain - that scene where Callum was discharged from the hospital, and he wasn't there to help him... It was one of the most painful and visually raw-aching (is that even a word??) moments of the book that even now, as I skim through the passages, my heart just aches.

The raw desperation in his actions to appeal to the hospital staff to let him just help Callum, the vivid dialogue that Tucker Shaw gave - I could literally sense how much Adam needed to be there for him and it hurt me so much that he wasn't able to! How Callum pushed him away, because he didn't want Adam to see him as the sickly dying patient, but remember him as the beautiful boy with loving hands that moved music with his slender fingers - the love that they DID have for each other, but couldn't say it till the end, that scene in the hospital room - their 'I LOVE YOU's that hurt too much to say face-to-face in those final moments... 😭😭😭😭😭😭


Do you hear that? --- That's my heart breaking. 💔💔💔

It really is not just a sad book - it's also a book about love, about friendship, about hope, about caring about what matters, and not hiding from who you are, but embracing, but loving yourself just the way you are. There is a beauty to that message that even when it was the worst of times, it shined in the acceptance and overwhelming emotion that I felt for all the characters, even the supporting ones! I want to say so much more, but you'll have to read it for yourself and decide how it'll make you feel.

And Tucker Shaw's writing moved me in ways I didn't think it would - never preachy, never overbearing, never melodramatic - it was an intensely raw emotional realistic look at two souls who just wanted to be loved and seen just the way they were during a moment in time that would forever change lives. And as painful as this book was, I would actually read it again. Just so my heart can be ripped out and my tears to overflow with unbridled feelings that gnawed at my inner core, just so I can have the broken pieces softly but surely put back together again. A beautiful must-read YA book - the highlight of my weekend and an emotional start to my March book reads. 💞💞💞
Profile Image for Nikola &#x1f308;.
60 reviews14 followers
October 16, 2021
get your silly little hands on this gorgeous book once it’s come out 🥲🏳️‍🌈
for a full experience play these songs in the background whilst you’re at it:

Madonna - Vogue
Deskee - Let That be House
Pet Shop Boys - It’s a Sin
Depeche Mode - Policy of Truth
Lil Louis - French Kiss
A-Ha - The Blue Sky
99 Neighbors - 49er
Helen Reddy - I Am Woman
Dusty Springfield - Son of A Preacher Man
Miquel Brown - So Many Men, So Little Time
Soul II Soul - Back To Life
A-Ha - Take On Me

Profile Image for cel ✼ readwithcel.
267 reviews525 followers
August 19, 2022
brb going to touch some grass and take a nap all whilst cRYING

“and you just dance, emotion pouring like sweat because you know you’re all here together, everyone, the living and the dead, tight, united, because if we all just dance together, feel together, rage together, release together, then maybe this place, this dark, beautiful place can become the only place in the world. maybe, maybe we can survive together, no matter what they want to do to us out there.”

set in 1990 against the backdrop of the aids epidemic, when you call my name follows 2 boys in new york — adam, who meets the boy of his dreams only to find that he’s very ill; & ben, who yearns to proudly wear his sexuality rather than keep it a secret now that he’s in new york after his mother kicks him out. they meet in passing, and slowly, their lives weave and intersect.

when you call my name is very much a love story, but not the one i expected. its a love story to queer new york in 1990 — ACT UP, the drag queens, lesbians, gay men, punks, dancing to madonna, the fear, the uncertainty, the defiance, the determinate, the gratitude, the endless fight, the pride. and oh god. the love.

imagine reading this fresh off pride month where for the first time in my life i get to see my queer elders who had fought before i was even born, people who had lived through and survived the aids crisis, who are still here today despite history trying to write over them. it hit me harder than ever and tucker shaw’s author’s note left me with my palms pressed against my eyes trying to hold it all together. a new favorite, i'll say this with my whole chest.

1990. a year on the brink. one foot in the eighties and the other foot searching for something uncertain and unknowable. a time when everything is changing so quickly that it’s terrifying, this story asks: who would we be? would we still be here?

its a love story, a tribute to those who came before us, who lived through some of the darkest times in queer history and fought for rights and fought for love, for what we have now. a thank you to them, that even though they are gone we won’t let history forget, won’t let it be covered up.

its a love story, an ode to the resilience of queer folk. for all they have been through and all they have lost; for family, friendship, passion, and human connection. for love, the fucking strength of the love they have that feeds their determination and fight. for the hope that they grasp onto so tightly and nurture it. and never ever let go.

and the answer to the question: yes, we are still here. we were here then, we are still here now, and we will always be here.

“one day you’re going to wake up and the world won’t be as dark … one day the air will change, and the sun will feel good on your face again, and when it does, i want you to let it. it won’t be a betrayal. it won’t mean you’ve stopped caring. i promise.”
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,857 reviews684 followers
June 28, 2022
I don't really know what to make of this one. It's not a bad book by any means, and will surely be an important read for many people, but it didn't have the emotional impact I was expecting.

We were given a lot, and I mean A LOT, of detailed descriptions. Every possible brand name, celebrity name or movie name that was in anyway relevant to 1990 was being mentioned, and at the same time, I could tell you almost nothing about our main characters' personalities. One of them loves fashion, one of them loves movies, and they're both gay. I'm not exaggerating, that's all I can tell you about them.

I think that's also why the emotion didn't land for me - I just didn't feel like I actually got to know these characters. I think my favourite parts of the book were the diary or interview like inserts from Ben's perspective, and I liked the writing style in those better as well.
Profile Image for Louis Muñoz.
171 reviews74 followers
August 28, 2023
Rating a 4, but maybe more a 3.75 book.

An often beautiful book. Set in 1990 New York, it captures that year, the city, and the times very well, especially the terror and tragedy of AIDS. The two MCs, Adam and Ben, were quite likeable young men, both 18 during most of the year during which this book takes place. The book toggles back and forth between their two stories, and although I can usually very easily shift gears with that structure, here, the format didn't quite work for me, and I found myself wondering who was Adam and who was Ben. And without giving anything away (much), these two separate tracks and lives do occasionally intersect, making me more confused in those moments, unfortunately.

By the way, there is also a third MC of sorts. While Adam and Ben's stories are told in the third person, there is a third person speaking in the FIRST person, looking back at pivotal turning points in his childhood. We're never told who that person is, although I think I know who he is meant to be. In fact, I have TWO theories about who he is meant to be, but this is a spoiler-free zone, so I'll keep those out of this review. (Happy to exchange theories with you, though!)

There is devastating anguish in these pages from Tucker Shaw, but also a lot of hope and beauty and love. To quote from the Author's Note at the end of the book: "'When You Call My Name' is fiction. It represents only the tiniest sliver of the continuing experience of HIV/AIDS. None of its characters existed in real life, not exactly... [Many of the places depicted didn't exist] in real life, not exactly. But you exist in real life, and I exist in real life, and that means hope exists in real life. Find it and hold it tightly, because hope will grow in your grasp." Love that.

Finally, there is this: "The HIV epidemic is not over, not by a long shot. There are still so many stories to be told and heard. We must tell them and hear them. There is still so much to learn. We must learn it. There is still so much work to do. We must do it. We can't let go. Please don't let go." Thanks, Tucker Shaw, and I look forward to future stories from you.

Update, 8/28/2023: I wish I had written notes on this book, like I normally do. Reading back through my review, I don't remember what my theories were!!! D@MN!!
Profile Image for Emma Ann.
344 reviews737 followers
May 3, 2022
I don’t even know what to say.


“One day you’re going to wake up and the world won’t be as dark … One day the air will change, and the sun will feel good on your face again, and when it does, I want you to let it. It won’t be a betrayal. It won’t mean you’ve stopped caring. I promise” (p. 300).


“They say that memories fade with time but I don’t believe that’s true. You carry them with you like stones in your pocket. Sometimes when it’s quiet you take them out and roll them between your fingers. Then you put them back in your pocket, safe again. You don’t leave them behind” (p. 353, author’s note).


EDIT: Forgot to add, thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of the book.
Profile Image for Cyndi.
589 reviews30 followers
May 5, 2022
I finished this book yesterday but still feel like I'm wandering the streets of NYC with Ben, Adam and Callum. I'll probably be with them for awhile because I can't see myself forgetting about them anytime soon. It's hard for me to be objective about this book because it made me emotional, which is the easiest way to get 5 stars from me. But I believe this book earned them, even without my tears (of which there were many).

A story centered around the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 80's and 90's will never be a happy one. Even with feelings of hope and acknowledging progress, you can't bring back or ignore all of the lives that were lost. All of those people, all of those dreams, just gone. And you also can't ignore the absolutely embarrassing way that those people were treated by society while fighting for their lives and going through hell in the process. And then there were the mental health effects it had on the people who assumed that because they were gay, dying from AIDS was a foregone conclusion. That was their fate. Period. They could put it off for a few years, maybe, but eventually it would catch up to them. This book broke my heart and did not put it back together again.

I was only 10 in 1990. If there was an internet, I definitely didn't have it. I didn't even have cable TV. I wasn't news savvy. I read the comics in the paper every morning, but never an actual article. The world outside of my suburban bubble hadn't reached me yet. So I learned about culture through music. I loved Madonna. I loved that Madonna made my mom mad. The Pet Shop Boys were a staple. The Cure changed my life. This book had a ton of pop culture references, and I latched on to each and every one of them like old friends because those songs and artists shaped me in ways my insulated surroundings never did. They eventually helped me find my people, my community, and I can't help but think that's why the author saturated this book with them. They were our windows to the world back then, a world that could feel very small without the technology we have now.

I haven't mentioned much about the story itself, but I don't really feel the need to. The blurb says it all. The rest should really be experienced, just have your tissues ready. My only complaint was that I wanted more time with Callum. Adam hoarded his Saturdays with him and I would have liked to see more of their good times together before things took a turn for the worse.

I hope writing this book was cathartic for the author. It was obviously personal to him and the regard in which he held the story was evident in how it was written, the moments he chose and the way he muffled his own voice at times in an effort to respect the privacy of the characters. I'm so very glad I read it.
Profile Image for Jason Conrad.
134 reviews16 followers
October 23, 2022
I was stunned by this book and didn't want to put it down. I loved everything about it, and I can be hard to please, lol. I absolutely adored both of these characters. The amount of work that was put into developing them and their storylines is incredible. I loved that it was set in the 90's against the backdrop of NYC and the AIDS epidemic. I've been reading a lot of books with this same setting, and think it is so important for those who did not have to experience the AIDS epidemic (myself included) to have an understanding of it -- of those who suffered while the government stood by.

The trauma that these young boys went through -- at ages 17 / 18 -- was a lot for my heart to handle. The grace with which Ben and Adam handled and processed these traumas was executed flawlessly by Tucker Shaw. This book was a true testament to the resiliency of queer people -- especially queer adolescents, who too often have to grow up far too quickly. Death, grief, hatred, bigotry, and homophobia were central themes that were contrasted by love, family, friendship, passion, and human connection -- a great balance that left me both happy and devastated at numerous points throughout.

I cried on multiple occasions (there is one in specific that involves a backpack), which is always a sign that I have become super invested in what happens to characters. And Tucker Shaw made me care about them. When You Call My Name was a knock-out. I cannot recommend it enough. I am so so so excited to read his future books!
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,456 reviews349 followers
July 14, 2022
A heartbreaking story of the early 1990s HIV/AIDs crisis that hit New York, told by an author who was there to see it happen. I loved that this captured a snapshot of life for Queer people when New York was finding it's feet in the new decade, while still feeling the effects of the 1980s.

I liked the contrast of Adam and Ben, while they were both gay male teenagers, the epidemic hit Adam much harder, as the people around him started to disappear. While Ben is more of an observer, seeing people around him being affected by it, but not having it affect him personally.

I also liked that the story had two different paths for Adam and Ben, but they kept bumping into each other as they started their adult lives, before connecting with each other later in the story. It was an interesting picture, seeing hospital beds and quiet apartments on Adams side, but the fast moving world of fashion on Ben's.
Profile Image for Fiebre Lectora.
1,921 reviews586 followers
April 1, 2023
1990. A Adam lo acaba de invitar a salir un chico en la que será su primera cita, un chico del que se enamorará, y con el que vivirá una tierna historia... Por su parte, Ben acaba de irse de casa después de que su madre descubriera su colección de revistas gays y, al llegar a Nueva York, empieza a sentir que hay un sitio para él. Sin embargo, todo se tuerce pronto, cuando sus caminos se cruzan: Callum desaparece y, cuando Adam descubra el motivo, su corazón se romperá; y Ben se enfrentará a un mundo que no es tan abierto como pensaba.

Lo admito: no le di mucha importancia a que la novela se ambientara en 1990... hasta que me di cuenta de que, por supuesto, tendría que tratarse el tema del colectivo queer, el VIH y todos los problemas que la enfermedad causó a la comunidad, tanto de salud como el hecho de que se los señalara como culpables si ningún tipo de motivo. Se me ha hecho durísimo leer al respecto, no os voy a mentir: ha sido muy doloroso, frustrante y triste.

Ais, pero, por supuesto, está magníficamente narrado y, además, contamos con unos protagonistas a los que es estupendo seguir, que son completamente tridimensionales, y queribles, aunque es cierto que esperaba que hubiera más conexión entre ambos, pero sus respectivas historias se mantienen bastante separadas durante mayor parte de la novela.

Reseña completa: http://fiebrelectora.blogspot.com/202...
Profile Image for Chris.
289 reviews20 followers
November 2, 2022
I found this to be spectacularly brilliant. It's certainly in contention (with Out of Time, Into You by Jay Bell) to be my favourite of the year. For some reason I had a few false starts when reading this book as I found it difficult to get into, but I'm so glad I persisted past the first 20 pages. It reads very much like YA/New Adult contemporary romance, but because of the period in which it's set, the AIDs epidemic manages to subvert our expectations of the genre. It's so emotional and impactful and I would encourage anyone (but especially queer people) to read this to realise the struggles that queer people had to experience in the past.

However it's not all doom and gloom. Mr Shaw manages to bring so much joy into the story along with the emotion and his pop culture references were perfection.
Profile Image for Gloria.
250 reviews101 followers
April 24, 2023
Escritura 4⭐
Personajes 3⭐
Argumento 3⭐
Coherencia 3⭐
Originalidad 3⭐
Disfrute 3⭐
Profile Image for Lucía Cafeína.
1,575 reviews179 followers
March 13, 2023
Imagino que soy demasiado inocente y al leer 1990, NY, y representación lgbt pensé que podría encontrarme un bonito romance... y NO TODO ESTE DRAMA QUE ME HA ATACADO A LO BESTIA TT__TT. Ha sido una gran historia, pero me ha dejado rota.
Profile Image for Kalob Dàniel.
Author 8 books148 followers
July 15, 2022
i couldn’t be more pleased and satisfied with this book. it was everything and more than what i thought. it was heartbreaking and beautiful, funny and heartwarming. it was scary and a celebration. i loved every minute of this untraditional love story of two boys and then one more set in 1990 nyc. friends. family. lovers.
Profile Image for JR.
112 reviews7 followers
March 16, 2023
4’5/5 💫

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Maybe when I finally process all my thoughts, I will post a proper review!
Profile Image for Jano.
685 reviews404 followers
April 20, 2023
Este libro me pilló por sorpresa y es que no esperaba que tuviese tanta carga dramática. Lo he disfrutado y me ha roto a la vez.

Que el libro estuviese ambientado en los 90 y en Nueva York es algo que me atrajo mucho y me animó a leerlo. En ese sentido, el autor ha hecho un trabajo excepcional.

Esta obra es importante por lo que se visibiliza en ella. Sé que a estas alturas es probable que ya sepáis el tema sobre el que gira esta novela, pero yo prefiero no decirlo para que, en caso de no conocerlo, lo descubráis en la lectura del mismo.

Los personajes me han encantado, aunque es cierto que me costó un poco conectar con ellos al principio.

Es una novela con la que además de entretenerte, puedes empaparte de la cultura pop de los 90 e incluso aprender al mismo tiempo.

Si tuviese que resaltar algo mejorable sería el ritmo, ya que por veces me resultaba un poco lento.

En resumen: una historia muy emocionante que me ha conquistado por completo. Un viaje al pasado de la mano de unos personajes entrañables y con un tema central muy importante.
Profile Image for Nev.
1,106 reviews153 followers
December 31, 2022
A coming of age story about two gay teen boys set in 1990 in NYC during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It’s a story of leaving home, finding your place, romance, friendship, homophobia, illness, and so much more. It’s a dual POV story between Adam and Ben and going into the story I was assuming that a lot of the book was going to be them together, but that’s not the case. They don’t know each other for the majority of the book. We spend most of the story getting to know them separately, so it’s really interesting to see when their paths finally cross. I think another important thing to note is that I wouldn’t call this book a romance, there’s definitely romance, sex, and love within the book. But I wouldn’t go into it simply looking for a story of two guys falling in love.

One thing that did really start to grate on me were the CONSTANT pop culture, music, brand, fashion, etc references. I understand that the author was probably using them to really set the scene of the time and place since this is a period piece. But it was just too much. Sometimes it felt like scenes were being overtaken by lists of references. Some would be useful to make the 1990s setting come alive, but it was just too much and started to distract me from the story.
Profile Image for Frank Socha.
173 reviews53 followers
August 18, 2022
In WYCMN, Adam and Ben navigate life as gay men in NYC during the 90s, a time where the AIDS epidemic was in full swing.

This book is incredible. SO much good can be said about this book and the topics Tucker sheds light on. For starters, I love when authors like Tucker bring forth a historical tragedy. I think it's important to continue talking about these sort of epidemics. Youth today probably aren't too privy to the trials gay people faced in the 80s/90s, so it's important to illuminate these tragedies to give them a glimpse of how things used to be. The story highlights the traumas of being gay in those decades. Homophobia was extremely wide-spread, the government sat back and watched all these people dying without lifting a finger, and hate crimes were committed without so much as a slap on the wrist. It is so important we never forget this time.

The book works in alternating perspectives, and it flows so, so well. We follow Adam who is dealing with loss due to the epidemic, and Ben who is navigating the hatred brought upon gay people. And finally having their stories intertwined. Their characters are so different, but when brought together, they blend so well. Adam, who has so much love and hates being alone, and Ben, who is trying to find himself after running away from his homophobic mother and wears his heart on his sleeve. They are both such addictive characters imbued with charisma.

The atmosphere is HEAVY. You can just feel the charge and it draws you into the story, as each page seems to present an inevitable twist or tragedy. It's the literal definition of a page-turner. I lost track of time so often with this book and I am NOT upset about it. There are moments of heartbreak and moments of absolute bliss, and it reels you in to every second of it. I LOVE the found-family trope, and both MCs find theirs. In addition to his found-family, Ben finds his niche and something he can see himself doing for a long time to come and I LOVE IT. And the way Jack and Victor just take Adam under their wing...tear-jerking. There are truly beautiful moments in this book.

Also, Rebecca and Lily. Two of the BEST side characters I have ever know. I would read the shit out of a book with just those two in them. And Dr. Neaves! Such incredible characters two accompany two incredible MCs. Omg and the scene when Gil shows up to pride in his gay shirt and tells Ben he's proud of him?? I cried.

Also, one of the best quotes in a book I have ever seen:

"But one day the air will change, and the sun will feel good on your face again, and when it does, I want you to let it. It won't be a betrayal. It won't mean you've stopped caring. I promise, you'll never stop caring. I promise. You won't ever forget him."

As someone who has lost someone very important to him from a disease, this hits home, and I hold it very dear.

Everyone should really pick up this book.
Profile Image for micah ➳ canonicallychaotic.
174 reviews223 followers
August 24, 2022
“maybe, maybe we can survive together, no matter what they want to do to us out there. they don’t know that their world is fake and ours is real. there’s nothing but here, nothing but now, nothing but us, nothing but the music.”

1990 in new york city. two gay teenage boys whose paths keep crossing. adam is falling in love for the first time. but when he learns about how the boy he’s falling for is sick, he finds out that love is not like the movies he’s obsessed with. ben has just left home after his mom discovers his gay magazines. but while living with his brother in the city, he finds he finds that there’s more to the life he dreams.

this book did not go the way i expected it to go. and every time i open a book that takes place during the aids epidemic i think i’ve prepared my heart, but i’m always so very wrong. i’m so glad to be wrong.

this book wasn’t the love story i was expecting. but it was still a love story in its own way.

a love story for queer new york in 1990. a love story for community and the family we make. the ones who visit those in the hospitals, who celebrate your life. a love story for a time on the brink of change. a love story for queer friendship.

adam and ben each have their own stories. we follow each of them separately until their threads start crossing—intersecting but not aligning. until they do. until they help each other heal. until they need each other most.

this book had some of the most gorgeous prose i’ve ever read. it floored me at all times. combined with the perfection that was the audiobook narrator, i would sometimes find myself just crying at the most simple scenes just because of how they were written. i only hope to write half as beautifully one day.

books that take place in the aids epidemic are so important to me. all the people who were lost, a generation we never got to look up to. and it’s so close. it happened so recently. i think often how much my life would be different if history had been. how would our pride look different.

we can’t change the past, but we can remember it. i always say i want to read more nonfiction about this time, but i haven’t yet. until then, i’ll collect pieces of ya fiction and hold them close.

this book has become one of my faves of the year, the first one for the latter half. i haven’t stopped thinking about it. i can’t wait to go back to it again. i found it quietly while searching for 2022 releases to preorder, and i'm so glad it fell into my cart. if you’re looking for a piece of queer historical fiction, might i suggest this.

“the hiv epidemic is not over, not by a long shot. there are still so many stories to be told and heard. we must tell them and hear them. there is still so much to learn. we must learn it. there is still so much work to do. we must do it. we can’t let go. please don’t let go.”
Profile Image for Bobby's Reading (Bobby Hannafey).
273 reviews24 followers
February 21, 2023
A. MUST. READ. This book was an absolute roller coaster of emotion, anger, and just a powerful book! Please look into trigger warning before reading this book, you’re going to have your heart broken and sometimes angry. Based on true events of the AIDS epidemic. This novel centers around Adam and Ben, gay teenagers trying to live their life. But between them outside in New York, they encounter hate, and a disease that’s spreads in the city. A beautifully written part love story that teaches many lessons and look back into the AIDS epidemic. Had a great buddy read with Jenna at @samepage.differentbook on Instagram!
Profile Image for Frank Chillura (OhYouRead).
885 reviews36 followers
June 18, 2022
I’ve just finished crying… crying for the people treated like lepers for a disease they couldn’t control… crying for the queer kids still treated unfairly and unjustly by those around them for nothing more than being different… crying for all of the lives lost during the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s. The ones who had no one to hold their hand as they passed. Just writing this review is making the tears come back.

I knew about and lived through some of the darkest years of queer history. When I was a kid, it affected me differently than it does now. I heard the whispers from my loved ones. I knew what they thought of gay men. Maybe that’s what made it harder for me to come out. If not for my mother reading my journal, I don’t think I would have had the courage.

When You Call My Name moved me like no other book has in a very long time. It felt like an out of body experience, looking down at what could have been had I been just a little older. Celebrating the lives of my friends who had passed and hoping I wasn’t the next to get disheartening news.

Adam and Ben’s stories ran parallel like two sides of the same coin. One being a poor kid whose mother kicked him out for his sexuality, forced to move in with his brother, the doctor. And the other being a rich kid who’s met the boy of his dreams, only to find him in a hospital for those living terminally with HIV and AIDS. They meet in passing, but their stories intersect throughout.

I honestly can’t say anything bad about this book. I’m still left heartbroken and reeling over the loss of a character I loved. I know that this story is very reflective of what so many gay men went through and while I don’t want to ever imagine this being my story, I know it could have so easily been one I knew much better.
Profile Image for Sarah.
209 reviews
August 12, 2022
I wanted to like this book. It's a YA romance about AIDS. How could I not?? But, sadly, this book fell short. I didn't feel invested in the romance, so that was a con. It also took way too much time to link up the two parallel stories. And, the writing was a little stilted and corny, even for me. Second star awarded due to fabulous 90s NYC pop culture references, the only saving grace (other than AIDS, of course.)
Profile Image for natemate.
50 reviews18 followers
August 13, 2022
I picked this book on a whim, not having read anything from the author previously or really knowing a great deal about the book. But I'm glad I did as I think it's probably one of the most important books I've read.

The novel follows Adam and Ben in New York City during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990s. Told from two separate perspectives, we follow the two adolescents as they begin to figure out their lives, find love, make new friends, and learn more about the real impact of the epidemic around them. Eventually their paths intersect and we get to experience the formation of a beautiful friendship in the time where all they seem to be experiencing is profound loss, hearteache, prejudice, discrimination, and misunderstanding. But amongst all that, there is a lot of a hope and a determination to be true to yourself in a world that at times doesn't even want to try to understand or be kind.
Profile Image for Laura.
460 reviews7 followers
October 30, 2022
Set in 1990, this book was a slice from my adolescence. Between the AIDS crisis, the love and fear for my gay boys, the terror and heartbreak with positive results, the awe that one is still here 30 years later, and the amazing community we build and find ourselves in, this book gave me so many feelings!

The range of characters, their growth, and journeys was delightful, engrossing, heartbreaking, affirming, and lovely. This felt like watching a TV show with an incredible soundtrack and cast.

Would everyone enjoy this as much as I did? I don’t know. This book would be informative and insightful for people who weren’t around at the time. But I saw myself, my friends, my community, and my pop culture obsessions represented. I was so far from NYC at the time, but its siren song lured multiple friends to it from this period in my life.

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