Feb 19, 2021librarianjessicaboorsma rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
This is an emotional gut punch of a book. I don't know that I enjoyed reading it, but it is a necessary book, and it made me uncomfortable for all the right reasons.
Reza immigrates to New York City with his mother when she remarries, moving from Iran, to Canada, and finally, to the city. Art and Judy are best friends and in his class at his new school; Art is one of the only out gay kids there, and Judy is a plus-sized fashion queen and designer who Reza immediately wants to know. Reza is struggling with his sexuality, because it's 1989, AIDS is running rampant, and there is no cure. He is terrified of sickness, terrified of death, and he will do whatever he has to to avoid both. Except he can't control love, and it comes in the form of brazen, loud, outspoken Art - and at the expense of lovely Judy.
This book truly is an ode to those who fought for the rights of gay men with AIDS in the 80's. It revolves around Stephen, Judy's uncle, who is sick and dying but fighting for his right to love all the way through the book. That feeling, that desire to fight and the helplessness that come along with it, truly seep through these pages. The entire time I was reading, I was angry. I wanted to go back in time and fight alongside the characters, to tell the government where to go, to stand up for the right for people to love who they love, period. That kind of indignation coupled with feeling completely powerless as a minority group that was spat on and disrespected for so long was truly an uncomfortable reading experience.
However, this book has so much heart. You can tell that this story is personal to the author, and the developing relationships amongst Art, Judy, and Reza were heartbreaking and powerful. I really felt for Judy, and though I know it's not necessarily *her* story at the heart of things, she is who I wanted more of. Art and Reza - especially Reza - took center stage for the last half-ish of the book, and I did very much enjoy them and wanted them to be happy so badly, but I wondered about Judy every time she wasn't on the page.
New York City, Madonna, forgiveness, old school movies, familial love, first love, love, love, love - this book is about so many things. It made me tear up at work, and it isn't one I'll forget anytime soon. It's so important to tell stories like these, own voices stories of immigration and acceptance and the challenges inherent in being different, no matter the time period.