Summary: (Borrowed from Barnes and Noble) The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.
Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.
Thoughts: I had the pleasure to interview James Brandon a few months ago and I immediately put myself on the library’s waitlist for this book after that. Something he said in that interview resonated with me and that was how so many LGBTQ+ people dont know our history and I recognize I’m one of those people. This book was a great way to look at our history and feel some of that pain and sit in the amount of progress we’ve made since then while thanking the people who made that change happen for us.
I loved reading Jonathan and Web fall in love with each other in a world that only I’m privy to as the reader. Its such a beautiful first love and placed me in my memories of my first real love. It reminded me of thinking I was in love but then actually being in love for the first time as I came to terms with my queerness and how beautiful that is. This book made me see that relationship as something different than I kept seeing it as and it helped me heal from the pain the ending of that relationship caused. I appreciate this book for giving me new perspective.
I like how short the chapters are and how easily they blend into each other. The short chapters make the book feel like its passing a lot slower than it actually is. At the end you realize that this whole story took place over the span of 1 summer. It just reminds me how quickly things can change and it reminds me of the quote in the book “Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.”
I really enjoy the moment Jonathan starts to be okay with being gay because it means he can be with Web. I love how he’s like nothing else matters because of that and just really knowing what that moment feels like. I enjoy how relatable so much of this book is even of it’s written in a different time period.
It’s also such a coincidence that the story has some of the big things happening on July 13. That was a important date for me in the past and seeing it be important for Jonathan just made that moment so much more emotional for me.
You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.