Review: Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

Title: Ziggy, Stardust and Me
Author: James Brandon
Release Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368

Content Warnings: homophobia (internalized and externalized), bullying, racism (specifically towards Native Americans), derogatory language, abuse (parental, psychological, and physical), shock/conversion therapy, misgendering, suicide, suicidal thoughts, sexism, disassociation, self-harm, possible PTSD, anxiety, asthma attacks, physical violence, police brutality, death of a parent, attempted rape

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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.

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