Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Freak Show by James St. James

Billy Bloom is Totally. Freaking. Fabulous. OF COURSE!

He is also the new kid at an ultra-conservative private school for the ultra-rich in Florida (the reddest of the red states). In such an ultra-ultra setting Billy needs to stand out in a big way if he has any hope of survival, but luckily standing out is second-nature to him. And Billy is uniquely prepared: he knows he's special, he's outgoing, smart, funny... and so he waltzes into his first day of school expecting to own it. Except...

Except. Billy Bloom is a drag queen, a gender obscurist, a glitteroid, a FREAK. He's the first of his kind, surely, or at least the first that any of the ultra-blond ultra-popular ultra-cruel kids at his school have seen. He can't be hated by EVERYBODY... can he?

After the popular boys put Billy in a coma (!) he develops an unlikely friendship with Flip Kelly, football quarterback and all-around golden boy. He also develops an all-too-likely crush (I'm sure. Wouldn't you?). Will this friendship be just the thing to save Billy, or will it put him under for good?

Billy Bloom is vibrant, hysterical and buoyant. Even in the depths of depression Billy displays his funny acid wit, and I found myself cheering him on every step of the way. This story is definitely character-driven and it's one of the best things I've read all year. What more is there to say?

This book may be good for gender obscurists and their friends and allies, folks in the mood for something irreverent, funny and uplifting, or anyone whose inner freak is crying out for a little recognition and acceptance.

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