Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freaks and Revelations by Davida Willis Hurwin

Freaks and Revelations – What a book. Seriously. This sat on my shelf for a really long time, I’m not sure why. Maybe I wasn’t ready to read it, maybe I was a little scared, the subject matter is super intense, and even more than that, it’s based on a true story. Hurwin tells the story of two boys, Jason who is 13 and Doug who is 17, whose very different lives are on a collision course towards each other, tragedy and inevitably growth. Jason is a gay hustler in San Francisco and Los Angeles. He didn’t choose this life, it was thrust upon him after his mother kicked him out for being gay. Doug is unhappy with his life and his family, and is slowly sinking into the depths of drugs, punk music and white supremacy. (the ultimate trio!) The majority of the book chronicles the two years of their lives before they meet. And that meeting is what changes their lives forever.
I don't want to give away to much, but the book flap, as well as the amazon.com review, both describe the event as a hate crime or a gay bashing. So basically Doug gay bashes Jason to within an inch of his life, and both are traumatized. The amazing part is what happens when they meet up again, twenty years later. And the amazing thing about it is that it's true! It really happened! Hurwin takes some liberties with the storytelling aspect, and the narrative portions of the two years leading up to the event are all fiction, but the events are true and here are some links describing the history.


I think it is pretty amazing that two such differing people are able to learn from their history and in Doug's case, mistakes, and come together to teach others about hate and intolerance, as well as love and acceptance. I also think it is amazing that Hurwin turned this into a ya novel, it is such an important aspect of LGBT history, and a wonderful story to tell, and Hurwin tells it extremely well. Her dialogue, is sharp, witty and heartbreaking, especially Jason's, who is forced to claim a persona of a someone much older and street-wise. And she manages to imbue in Doug enough sadness and tragedy so that the reader feels connected to him, and although his actions were awful and hateful, is able to feel happiness at his ultimate redemption. This is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone who likes stories about love, friendship, hate, betrayal, redemption, as well is readers interested in the history of punk and the LGBT struggle.

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