book thoughts: Freak Show by James St. James


James St. James

Billy Bloom is FABULOUS in every sense of the word.  He is gay and a transvestite and about to have his first day of senior year at a brand new high school in Florida, after being foisted upon his father.  As you can imagine, his reception is less than overwhelming. 

I think I liked this book.  It was funny and spazzy and full of ridiculous pop culture references (there were several Buffy and Star Wars throw away lines).  But…something about it doesn’t sit well with me afterwards.

Billy is the anti-YA-gay-kid.  Typically, you pick up a YA book and there is a teen wondering about his sexuality, upset about telling friends or family, awkward at school, and the story ends with him accepting himself for who he is.  Billy does not have these issues.  We have met Billy several years from that story. 

He is confident to a fault.  Perhaps that was what made the book so mesmerizing but in the end, not as fullfilling as you might want.  Billy starts strong and he ends strong.  He hardly wavers in the middle.  He has a few breakdowns, a few moments where you see the young man trying to figure himself out, but they pass too quickly.  He comes off as moody to the point that I didn’t really feel the emotions with him, I just sort of smiled and nodded. 

He also seems to have no concept of how his confidence affects other people.  He knows he is making them uncomfortable but he hardly does anything to endear himself to them.  He’s kind of pompous. 

Also, I saw the ending coming a mile away.  Which was a little sad for a book that was trying to be so daring and different to have a cliche ending that you figure out before the first hint is dropped.

This book would probably be a great book for a teen discussion group but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher, school, or even parent brave enough to suggest it.  Which would make Billy even happier.

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