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Brave Face
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Book of the Month > Jan 2020 BotM #2 - Brave Face (poss spoilers)

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message 1: by Kaje (last edited Jan 09, 2020 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kaje Harper | 16460 comments Both books in the voting this month got more votes than in the past several, and were almost tied, so since one is fiction and one autobiography, I decided we should put up both and members can read whichever appeals to them:

Book 2 for Jan-Feb 2020 is Brave Face Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson by Shaun David Hutchinson

Critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants—described as having “hints of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five” (School Library Journal)—opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.


Content warnings noted in reviews for: (view spoiler)

This thread is for discussion of this book - there is no specific reading schedule and you may post at any time. There may be spoilers in the comments, so be aware if you have not yet finished. Especially if you are posting early in the two months, please try to put real plot spoilers into a spoiler-hiding tag - write <*spoiler> before the text and <*/spoiler> at the end of it - with both * removed to make it work, and it will be hidden, revealed only (view spoiler)

I look forward to seeing what the group thinks of this one.


message 2: by Kaje (last edited Feb 15, 2020 07:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kaje Harper | 16460 comments I finally got this from the library - it's interesting reading so far (about halfway). Not IMO as compelling as his fiction, but the first 1/3 is a very real-feeling portrait of a teen guy who is so deep in the closet he's not out to himself. The feeling of being a misfit, and not quite knowing why, being desperate for something and not knowing what, rings true.

It's also interesting to me because he was a teen in the 1990s, when I was already in my 30s ; I perceived things as so much better for LGBTQ folk than the 70s when I was a teen, he sees the deep ways in which there still was very little affirmation. The resulting self-sabotage and depression is tough reading sometimes.

And some things that had a deep impact on him, like the Amadure/Schmitz murder case, didn't hit my radar at all. And yet the flavor of the coverage made a huge impression (the press not critical of a type of gay-panic defense for murder.)

I think a lot of people will see parts of their teen experience in this story. Definitely note the content warnings above, though.


Kaje Harper | 16460 comments I finished this book - my review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I left it impressed with Shawn's courage in writing such a naked and honest account of a gay teen struggling with his issues of identity, of self-worth, and depression. It emphasized for me the point of just how vital representation is, and also how deeply a single moment of rejection, of disappointment or stereotyping on the part of someone you trust (like a parent or friend,) can damage someone's self-worth.

I wished he'd given us a more in-depth account of where he is today. He tells us how much better life is now, but in a more summary way that didn't make me feel it with anything of the intensity with which I felt his pain through the teen years.

Hopefully readers will still take away a message of hope from it.

It's also clear where the impressively real picture of teen depression in We Are the Ants comes from.

I think a lot of readers, not just teens, will identify with things in this story. It's not as gripping as his fiction, because real life is far more messy and indeterminate than a fiction narrative, but it's well written. Just do note the trigger warnings.

I'll be interested to see what anyone else thinks.


message 4: by TJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

TJ (troyfin2) | 7 comments I also thought this book was so real and raw. Shaun was very brave (haha) to write this and share it with the world. I really connected with it, personally. I don’t read much nonfiction, but maybe I should start if more are like this one. I did the audiobook, which Shaun narrates, and it was phenomenal. I highly recommend listening to it.


message 5: by Iamshadow (new)

Iamshadow | 334 comments I really want to read this properly this year. I read an extended excerpt last year and really connected with it.


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