Isaac Griffin has always felt something was missing from his life. And for good reason: he’s never met his dad. He’d started to believe he’d never belong in this world, that the scattered missing pieces of his life would never come together, when he discovers a box hidden deep in the attic with his father’s name on it.
When the first clue points him to San Francisco, he sets off with his boyfriend to find the answers, and the person he’s been waiting his whole life for. But when his vintage station wagon breaks down (and possibly his relationship too) they are forced to rely on an unusual girl who goes by Max—and has her own familial pain—to take them the rest of the way.
As his family history is revealed, Isaac finds himself drawing closer to Max. Using notes his dad had written decades ago, the two of them retrace his father’s steps during the weeks leading up to the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco, a precursor to the Stonewall Riots a few years later. Only to discover, as he learns about the past that perhaps the missing pieces of his life weren’t ever missing at all.
TW: Self Harm, Suicide Attempt, alcohol, abuse, drugs, hospitalization
Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoyed Ziggy, Stardust, and Me so when I saw the author had come out with another book I knew I had to read it. When I found out the audiobook is read by the author I decided I wanted to listen to the book rather than read the e-book version.
Something that I really enjoy about this book is the way that it integrates Queer history throughout the story. There were a lot of pieces that I knew about briefly but not extensively and these pieces sparked interest in learning more. I really like this aspect because this is meant for Queer youth to read so it’s nice knowing they would learn history along with reading this story.
Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was that while it is a coming of age story, it isn’t a coming out story. I like how all three of the main characters are trying to figure out their lives and the missing pieces in each of them. I also like how each of them are trying to use other people to fill that void, and how this doesn’t turn out how they planned.
Characters: In this book you are introduced to our main character, Fig, his boyfriend, Christopher, a friend of his, Charlie, and a girl that they met along their journey, Max. You are also introduced to several characters that Fig comes into contact with on his journey to find his dad.
I really liked all of the characters that you are introduced to throughout this book. I liked the relationship between Fig and Christopher and how this changes throughout the book. I liked how real their relationship is and how messy they are with each other. I like how you see them both trying to hold onto something that isn’t there, and while you hope for the best for them you also hope they find themselves without the other one.
I also really enjoyed the relationship that develops between Max and Fig and how this shifts throughout the story. I liked seeing how each of them understands the other and how they just clicked right from meeting each other. I just like how easy it was for Fig to trust Max, and how she just takes it all in and vice versa.
Writing Style: This book is written in first person through the perspective of Fig. I really enjoyed this being told through his perspective because you don’t get a chance to see how other people feel. I like that we are inside of Fig’s head as he is figuring out things for himself especially when he locks others out.
James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi for a decade, and is Co-Director of the documentary film based on their journey: Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He’s Co-Founder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Board, as well as the Powwow Steering Committee, for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. He’s also a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, spent a summer at Deer Park Monastery studying Zen Buddhism, and deepened his yogic practice in Rishikesh, India. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington Post, Believe Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health Magazine. Ziggy, Stardust, and Me is his first novel.