Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Debbie Harry Sings in French - Meagan Brothers

Where I got it: Inter-library Loan
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 3.5 stars (Interesting. I like that it's sorta plain, and the text is "Debbie's" hair)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: May 27, 2008
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Page Count: 232 p.

Johnny has been drinking for a long time now. Ever since his father died in a car accident. Since then his mother has shut down leaving Johnny to run the household by himself. He hangs out with his goth friends and they drink and he drinks and everyone is happy. That is until Johnny nearly dies of an overdose and wakes up in the hospital. His mother decides she can't deal with him sends him to rehab first—where he falls in love with Debbie Harry—then ships him off to live with his uncle. Some bullies at his new school think that he's gay, however, and take to beating the crap out of him whenever it strikes their fancy. Luckily his Uncle is very supportive and Johnny's girlfriends Maria is always on his side too. Slowly Johnny discovers that it's more than just the singer he's obsessed with, it's the everything she represents. Johnny wants to be beautiful and strong and amazing, and Maria, for one is determined to let him discover who he really wants to be.

This was a well-written and fascinating novel that explores a boy who is just constantly trying to figure out what's inside of him. He's knows he is different, but he can't quite figure out what exactly makes him different.  I had been meaning to read this book since I saw it on the 2009 Rainbow List. I finally just sat down and said alright, you got to catch up. I'm glad I did. I think some teens might find the subject matter a little disconcerting. Some kids just aren't comfortable reading about someone so real and similar to them being a transvestite. Regardless, I think this is a wonderful book that helps explore a topic that most kids don't have a lot of information about. Most kids easily past judgement on someone like Johnny (much like the bullies in the book). It's hard to look at someone who is different, when we do not understand what exactly is different about them, or what that difference really means. In the perfect world everyone could just except that everyone is different from everyone else and just get on with living their own lives instead of bothering other people. I'm glad Meagan Brothers wrote this book. Teen need to know that there are people out there like this and they are not alone if they are going through something similar.

I appreciated that each of the chapter titles were Blondie songs, it was a great touch. Also I loved that Maria was Johnny's girlfriend, I mean "Maria you've gotta see her go insane and out of your mind...". It was just so great. I absolutely adored Bug, Johnny's cousin, she was just very cute and funny. Bug was obsessed with space, astronauts, rockets all of that. I also like it when characters interact with their younger relatives, I think you can tell a lot about a person based on how they are with kids. It was fantastic that Johnny had a really good support system. He had a counselor, his uncle and his girlfriend, who were all telling him that he was okay. This is just a really fantastic book and if you read GLBTQ lit make sure you pick this one up.

First Line:
"Tessa was cool because she bought records."

Favorite Lines:
"That light was like the fucking sun."

"Without walking it seemed, we were in her bed, our fingers nipping at each other's buttons and zippers."

And for those of you who would like to hear Debbie Harry sing in French click here.

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