Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.
To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.
Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.
First off a trigger warning for homophobia and abuse. I gave this book 4 stars for the personal feeling that the writing gives, and the look into the AIDS crisis during the 80’s. I feel like I learned so much that was never taught to me in school and I only vaguely knew about. The point of view works well because no one really had any facts about the virus at the time because they didn’t research or educate people about it.
The coming of age aspect is great as well because he is so conflicted being in the closet with not accepting parents that already kicked his brother out. He is also struggling with first love and hearing all the rumors about AIDS and not knowing how to protect himself.
My only complaints about the book is that the characters could have been more fleshed out, for example his best friend Becky has a drug addict mom that is never really addressed. The main characters mother does nothing to address abusive behavior that is happening to her kids, and they don’t go more in depth about how she might be scared or why she acts the way she does.
Thanks for reading 🙂