Eileen's Reviews > Freak Show

Freak Show by James St. James
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Jun 26, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: ya

Considering this wouldn't have been published on the YA circuit even ten years ago, Freak Show is a major accomplishment. Yes, it does belong to the theme of "I'm not accepted in high school because I'm a ________, but I will overcome the prejudices of others to be accepted as myself!" It's still better done than a great majority of those, especially since the blank is an extra-challenging-to-mainstream-society "drag queen." For one thing, Billy Bloom's character is thoroughly developed (see, in contrast, other YA LGBT books, such as Rainbow Boys); the strength inherent (and believeable!) in his character is clearly what every kind of highschool misfit needs to see. The balance in tone is also a huge strength here. Although, clearly, things like "getting beaten down by a bunch of neanderthals" are pretty serious, Billy's reaction is multidimensional. There's no plodding high-moral-horse tone; instead, grief gives way to a joyful reaffirmation of fabulousness that carries the entire narrative. It's a swift, fun, witty, and important book.
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