Brave Face
Critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants—described as having “hints of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five” (School Library Journal)—opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

Brave Face Details

TitleBrave Face
Author
ReleaseMay 21st, 2019
PublisherSimon Pulse
Rating
GenreNonfiction, LGBT, Autobiography, Memoir

Brave Face Review

  • Dylan
    January 1, 1970
    January 25th, 2019:Wowowowowowwowowowow is this book important. It was pretty surreal reading so in depth about Shaun's life considering he's my favorite author of all time and I can now consider him a friend. I always have a hard time reviewing memoirs because it's someone's life, but I will say that while it is an important read, it could also me incredibly triggering. I plan to mark in this review where the specific things are mentioned in the book, soon, but just know that this goes into gre January 25th, 2019:Wowowowowowwowowowow is this book important. It was pretty surreal reading so in depth about Shaun's life considering he's my favorite author of all time and I can now consider him a friend. I always have a hard time reviewing memoirs because it's someone's life, but I will say that while it is an important read, it could also me incredibly triggering. I plan to mark in this review where the specific things are mentioned in the book, soon, but just know that this goes into great detail about suicide, depression, self harm, anxiety, and queerphobia.*There is no rating because I always feel odd about rating memoirs. Just know that I really enjoyed this.March 20th, 2018:I had the absolute pleasure of announcing this book (which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-ZIb...) so of course i can't wait till everyone can read it!!
    more
  • Sam Miller
    January 1, 1970
    So. F*cking. Good.
  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    when amazon fucked up your preorder once again
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    The thing I appreciate about books dealing with any challenging aspects of growing up or being a person in the world -- and in Shaun's case, being gay and having depression -- is when they don't end on a happy note, but end on the fact that being OKAY is the goal. That finding a space to be OKAY is the challenge and the work done to manage life on realistic terms. This book does that.There are trigger warnings throughout, as this book delves into life with depression, suicide ideation and an att The thing I appreciate about books dealing with any challenging aspects of growing up or being a person in the world -- and in Shaun's case, being gay and having depression -- is when they don't end on a happy note, but end on the fact that being OKAY is the goal. That finding a space to be OKAY is the challenge and the work done to manage life on realistic terms. This book does that.There are trigger warnings throughout, as this book delves into life with depression, suicide ideation and an attempt, as well as what life is like being gay and not having a strong sense of self and acceptance, in part because the world around you offers none of the role models you deserve to see. Shaun doesn't shy away from sharing some of the poor decisions he made or the behaviors he engaged in that don't put him in a great light, but those are real, and they're raw, and they're honest and vulnerable and the kinds of things that young people will see and understand and appreciate.A compelling, moving, powerful read from an author who leans into his imperfections as a young person, while being realistic that being brave isn't a requirement of being a person and sometimes, things suck and are hard and yet, they can and do improve....and finding that space to be OKAY? It can happen, will happen, even if it takes time. And it's also okay to be frustrated by that.
    more
  • Circe
    January 1, 1970
    I wanna read this more than do my thesis. I know it shouldn't have been easy to write this book and more because is his own memoir book, so I wanna say: Thank you so much Shaun for writing. I don't have words to describe how much you have help me with your books.
    more
  • Circe
    January 1, 1970
    I wanna read this more than do my thesis. I know it shouldn't have been easy to write this book and more because is his own memoir book, so I wanna say: Thank you so much Shaun for writing. I don't have words to describe how much you have help me with your books.--O M G!ANOTHER SHAUN DAVID BOOK AND EVEN BETTER HIS OWN MEMOIRI don't even have words to express how I feel...Dear Shaun David:
    more
  • Caleb Roehrig
    January 1, 1970
    😭💔😭❤😭💔😭❤😭 😭💔😭❤️😭💔😭❤️😭
  • DonationWayne
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t really know how to write a review for a memoir other to say it was a lot of things very important for me to hear. I grew up in a younger generation, one who had more access to the internet, to media and in general gay content. I cried when he described his feelings while going to see Beautiful Thing, the fear the worry he would be seen by someone he knows as I experienced the same thing with Love, Simon. I ached as he described suicidal ideation and self harm, because I’ve been there too I don’t really know how to write a review for a memoir other to say it was a lot of things very important for me to hear. I grew up in a younger generation, one who had more access to the internet, to media and in general gay content. I cried when he described his feelings while going to see Beautiful Thing, the fear the worry he would be seen by someone he knows as I experienced the same thing with Love, Simon. I ached as he described suicidal ideation and self harm, because I’ve been there too. I don’t have much to say other thank you for sharing your life with us, at your high points and low points. Please head the trigger warnings and take breaks if you need to, but it’s a very important listen. Check it out if your mentally in a place where it’s possible.
    more
  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    A resounding message of IT GETS BETTER. I so appreciate Shaun sharing his experiences.
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book in one day and I haven't stopped crying. Everyone please please please read this book.
  • Sabrien Abdelrahman
    January 1, 1970
    I needed this book yesterday. Shaun David Hutchinson is definitely one of my favorite authors and this must have been extremely difficult to write. I just. . . I'm so grateful that he's sharing his experience with us and I can't. . .
  • Eliza Rapsodia
    January 1, 1970
    OMGGGGGGLO NECESITOI NEED ITI NEED ITI NEEEEEED!LO NECESITO YA! LO NECESITO YAAAA SEGUIR BSUCANDO EMPLEO PARA COMPRAR ESTE LIBRO YAAAS
  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    "I wasn't depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay." I don't know what about you guys, but that quote gave me goosebumps.
  • Phil Stamper
    January 1, 1970
    I want to say "full review to come" but ... I'm not sure how to put my feelings for this into words. And I'm an author. It's so beautiful, so honest, and this book is so necessary. <3
  • Scott Garrison
    January 1, 1970
    I related to Hutchinson's life so much. I was that teen that couldn't accept himself. I was that guy that felt like he didn't deserve love. I was that guy that contemplated suicide for many years because the pressures of the world became too much for me to handle. I am moved by his story, and I thank Hutchinson for telling his story because there are people, like myself, that can relate to him and learn from him. Depression is a beast that can tear down even the bravest of warriors. That voice i I related to Hutchinson's life so much. I was that teen that couldn't accept himself. I was that guy that felt like he didn't deserve love. I was that guy that contemplated suicide for many years because the pressures of the world became too much for me to handle. I am moved by his story, and I thank Hutchinson for telling his story because there are people, like myself, that can relate to him and learn from him. Depression is a beast that can tear down even the bravest of warriors. That voice inside can become deafening and make it impossible to hear any reason. I was afraid to ask for help for many years because I couldn't accept myself. When I was 24, I attended a candlelight vigil that honored LGBT+ youth who had committed suicide. Everyone was handed a photo. My photo belonged to a 16 year old male teen named Aaron. I'll never forget the moment I stared at his picture and realized how unhappy I was with my life. I had been living my life a certain way to please the people in life at my own expense. I wouldn't allow myself to be my true self because I was afraid of how everyone would react to my secrets. However, at that candlelight vigil, I let myself go. I willed myself to move forward. I accepted myself and realized that I needed to focus on my own happiness instead of the happiness of others. I wasn't miraculously healed. It still took many years and lots of therapy, but I found ways of coping. Every day is a struggle, but I realized that putting on a mask or a brave face is no longer me. Thank you, Shaun David Hutchinson for writing your story and sharing yourself with the world. I have adored your work for quite sometime because I have found a piece of myself in all of your stories. I will keep reading as long as you keep writing!I could not recommend this book more. I hope that anyone who has experienced depression and anxiety reads this book. I also hope that even if you haven't that you pick it up because you might recognize the signs of depression in a person close to you, who might be too afraid to ask for help.
    more
  • Chloe⛅
    January 1, 1970
    Trigger warnings; homophobia, self harm, suicide attempt, depression Please don’t read this unless you feel like you are in the right mental state to be able to! It talks deeply about depression, self harm and suicide and is very hard to read so please think about yourself first!If I had to point to one thing that was wrong with my life, I would have pointed at me, but I’d have been damned if I’d been able to explain why.It’s hard to review and talk about a memoir because it’s somebody’s life so Trigger warnings; homophobia, self harm, suicide attempt, depression Please don’t read this unless you feel like you are in the right mental state to be able to! It talks deeply about depression, self harm and suicide and is very hard to read so please think about yourself first!If I had to point to one thing that was wrong with my life, I would have pointed at me, but I’d have been damned if I’d been able to explain why.It’s hard to review and talk about a memoir because it’s somebody’s life so I’m going to keep this relatively short.This book truly is so raw and emotional Most of this book did truly break my heart and one of those times was well every time Shaun went into what the attitudes were like towards the lgbt+ community in the 90’s and how every lgbt+ character was treated like absolute trash, the character that was laughed at, killed off and just throw around. That all of them sleep around and contract aids etc it’s disgusting that some of those attitudes are still around today. But, we are also lucky to live in a time with so many YA books out there that tell the stories of lgbt+ community and show that we are incredible people with incredible stories and we are you know, actually human beings.Really saw myself in Shaun when he is scared that coming out as gay will scare everyone off because I felt like that and still do feel like that to this day. I also saw myself when he talks about that voice in your head getting too loud, when depression tells you you’re not good enough for anyone, when he was cutting himself everyday and thinking about ending his life it was like I was transported back to a time I try and forget and it was honestly hard and I almost had to put the book down but I really, really respect Shaun for writing this memoir because it couldn’t have been easy and I hope that people who need to hear his words hear them because I needed them and I’m so glad I read this.
    more
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. I have read and admired much of Shaun David Hutchinson’s fiction. This memoir was everything I expected it to be: raw, real, and compelling. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter, the author has such a compelling and honest voice that the book was hard to put down (I read it in a day). I was particularly struck by the frankness with which Mr. Hutchinson speaks about his experiences with depressi Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. I have read and admired much of Shaun David Hutchinson’s fiction. This memoir was everything I expected it to be: raw, real, and compelling. Despite the difficulty of the subject matter, the author has such a compelling and honest voice that the book was hard to put down (I read it in a day). I was particularly struck by the frankness with which Mr. Hutchinson speaks about his experiences with depression: the book does not offer easy answers and there is no “magic” moment of recovery; instead, Mr. Hutchinson acknowledges that managing depression is a lifelong task. I was also a queer teenager in the 90s and, while my experiences of queer culture varied significantly from Mr. Hutchinson’s, I did enjoy some moments of nostalgia (who among us can forget listening to Tori Amos for the first time?). Although the world has changed a great deal since the 90s, the issues raised in the book are still immediate and relevant and I believe this memoir will resonate with today’s teens. This is an important and, yes, brave book, and I hope it finds the wide readership it deserves.
    more
  • María
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t really know how to review a memoir, so I’ll just say what I felt: sadness, anger, happiness, disgust, fear, sympathy, hope. This book is hard to read, it’s mostly filled with self-hatred and anguish (and I beg you all to pay attention to the warnings Hutchinson provides at the beginning) but the thing is that it also addresses one of the most important things: that the point is being OKAY. Things get better, yes, but they will get better eventually, slowly, and you probably won’t be happ I don’t really know how to review a memoir, so I’ll just say what I felt: sadness, anger, happiness, disgust, fear, sympathy, hope. This book is hard to read, it’s mostly filled with self-hatred and anguish (and I beg you all to pay attention to the warnings Hutchinson provides at the beginning) but the thing is that it also addresses one of the most important things: that the point is being OKAY. Things get better, yes, but they will get better eventually, slowly, and you probably won’t be happy right away, but being okay is okay. Hutchinson’s story is sad and difficult to get through but also very relatable and hopeful.Please be careful if you do decide to read it!
    more
  • Kelly Hager
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not a huge nonfiction person, but I will read anything that Shaun David Hutchinson writes. I knew going in that this would be an emotional read, and it was.What I didn't expect was how much I would laugh and cry and experience everything along with Shaun.He's only a couple of years older than I am, and I vividly remember how gay people were perceived in the 80s and 90s. (SPOILER: Not well. It wasn't until Ellen came out that things started to turn around.)It's hard to grow up with this kind I'm not a huge nonfiction person, but I will read anything that Shaun David Hutchinson writes. I knew going in that this would be an emotional read, and it was.What I didn't expect was how much I would laugh and cry and experience everything along with Shaun.He's only a couple of years older than I am, and I vividly remember how gay people were perceived in the 80s and 90s. (SPOILER: Not well. It wasn't until Ellen came out that things started to turn around.)It's hard to grow up with this kind of constant messaging (erasure at best; damaging stereotypes at worst) and not internalize it; that's what happened here. At its core, this book details how you overcome that. And it details how NOT to overcome that.It absolutely broke my heart in places but it's also one of the best books I've ever read. Highly recommended.
    more
  • Parker Jensen
    January 1, 1970
    This book is going to be so powerful and beautiful. I cannot wait.
  • winn
    January 1, 1970
    i love shaun so much.
  • Roof Beam Reader (Adam)
    January 1, 1970
    As Mary Poppins so aptly said, "practically perfect in every way." More thoughts to come on the blog? Maybe...
  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    I can't wait to read this one!
  • Emily Knosher
    January 1, 1970
    I wish I could go back in time and give high school Shaun David Hutchinson a hug. I love love loved this memoir. Even while reading Shaun David Hutchinson's fiction it feels deeply personal, so the experience reading his memoir was next-level personal. His willingness to share so much about his experiences for the purpose of helping others is admirable and I'm glad for it. Also I know I'm technically not supposed to quote because it's an ARC but some are just so good so I'm gonna put them in thi I wish I could go back in time and give high school Shaun David Hutchinson a hug. I love love loved this memoir. Even while reading Shaun David Hutchinson's fiction it feels deeply personal, so the experience reading his memoir was next-level personal. His willingness to share so much about his experiences for the purpose of helping others is admirable and I'm glad for it. Also I know I'm technically not supposed to quote because it's an ARC but some are just so good so I'm gonna put them in this review:"When we stroll through lives of priveledge without consideration of others, we risk hurting them irreparably, and we must take responsibility for that hurt even if we aren't aware we've caused it.""Understanding was one thing. Being okay was another.""You don't have to put on a brave face and pretend that everything's okay. It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to ask for help. You can show people who you really are, and you'll still be worthy of being loved."
    more
  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    This book gutted me. Shaun came of age just on the fringes of the digital age, when LGBTQ+ folks lacked any positive representation in media, were still expected to hide themselves if they wanted to serve their country, and had no legal protections for their relationships. He was discovering he was gay in a time when he had no way envision what that might mean for him-- and no way of looking at his future that gave him any hope. He also struggled with depression throughout his adolescence-- and This book gutted me. Shaun came of age just on the fringes of the digital age, when LGBTQ+ folks lacked any positive representation in media, were still expected to hide themselves if they wanted to serve their country, and had no legal protections for their relationships. He was discovering he was gay in a time when he had no way envision what that might mean for him-- and no way of looking at his future that gave him any hope. He also struggled with depression throughout his adolescence-- and the way he talks about his depression resonates deeply with me. Shaun's writing is unflinchingly honest, intimate, and kind. Even though many of his experiences, and the attendant growth were shatteringly painful, his writing is not heavy. This story is such a gift-- and given with such compassion to the reader. My teen will have it in her hands the day it comes out in print.
    more
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    Brave Face is a powerful, painful personal journey. As I read it, I thought of students who are wrestling with their own sexuality and with possible depression, and I wondered if Shaun David Hutchinson’s story would help them feel seen and understood. I think so, although I also wish he had shared more light and hope and success spliced in. He refers to it at the end, as I knew he would. Sharing his story is important. I grew weary in the middle of the book, though, and skimmed pages when I felt Brave Face is a powerful, painful personal journey. As I read it, I thought of students who are wrestling with their own sexuality and with possible depression, and I wondered if Shaun David Hutchinson’s story would help them feel seen and understood. I think so, although I also wish he had shared more light and hope and success spliced in. He refers to it at the end, as I knew he would. Sharing his story is important. I grew weary in the middle of the book, though, and skimmed pages when I felt like the same rhetorical questions repeated. I would be sad if someone who really needs to get to the success at the end gave up halfway through.
    more
  • Trent
    January 1, 1970
    Received Advance Reading Copy Through NetGalley:I don’t read a lot of nonfiction -and I read a lot fewer autobiographies, but this one is a definite standout piece for me. It might be one of the most personally meaningful and impactful pieces of nonfiction that I’ve ever read.Hutchinson grew up in Florida at a time when being gay was actively denigrated in laws and policies like the Defense of Marriage Act or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Moreover, there was actual violence being committed against indiv Received Advance Reading Copy Through NetGalley:I don’t read a lot of nonfiction -and I read a lot fewer autobiographies, but this one is a definite standout piece for me. It might be one of the most personally meaningful and impactful pieces of nonfiction that I’ve ever read.Hutchinson grew up in Florida at a time when being gay was actively denigrated in laws and policies like the Defense of Marriage Act or Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Moreover, there was actual violence being committed against individuals from the LGBT community.There were no real role models or diverse voices out there to reach him. Media inundated him with a particular picture of what being gay meant that didn’t resonate with who he was or wanted to be. But that picture informed so much about who he tried to be and how other people treated him.Things have changed since then, a lot in some ways but not nearly enough in others. And it means something to me, as I hope it does to other people in the LGBT community especially the youngest among us, that he shared how difficult the whole “growing up” process was.Hutchinson was so full of self-hate and depression. He felt anger and regret, lost and lonely. None of these feelings are completely alien to any teen, but with the addition of depression and the stress of both internal and external homophobia we know how the statistics play out. We know how the coil of suicidal ideation can coil its way inside us in ways we don’t even realize.I appreciate that Huchinson doesn’t mince words or gloss over the difficulties of his situation or the struggle with depression, identity, or suicide. It’s not easy, and he’s perfectly open about the decades he spent messing up and getting it wrong before getting better and worse and better again. He’s lost people, friends and family, in the self-destructive wake of his decisions.It’s hard but the message we’re left with that things do get better, though largely with time and by trying to be better ourselves. We keep trying, keep asking for help. We make mistakes and we move on.At the core of this autobiography is the quest for identity, and I really believe that this is the part of the book that is most universally applicable. Huchinson didn’t know who he was, wasn’t sure he liked who that person was or that other people would even care about him. He made bad decisions in order to reinvent himself and fit in only to discover he wasn’t happy being the person he was trying to be. It’s a lifelong process, and it’s hard to watch because of how raw and real the emotions are.We need more books like this. The LGBT community in particular needs more books like this. I wish I’d had this book when I was younger to hear that someone else was facing the same loneliness and depression I was. I wish that I had someone to tell me they understood how hard it was to grow up with all these fears and insecurities regarding my sexuality. But I’m glad it’s here now, and I’m more than happy that LGBT kids now will have this.
    more
  • Van (Short & Sweet Reviews)
    January 1, 1970
    Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.4 1/2 stars.I’ve never been a fan of non-fiction, and a lesser fan of biographies. But my goal this year was to expand my reading and read books out of my comfort zone. So, when Brave Face was offered for review, I thought, what perfect timing! Brave Face is a memoir written by popular Young Adult author, Shawn Hutchinson who mainly pens contemporaries. Those of which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading…yet Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.4 1/2 stars.I’ve never been a fan of non-fiction, and a lesser fan of biographies. But my goal this year was to expand my reading and read books out of my comfort zone. So, when Brave Face was offered for review, I thought, what perfect timing! Brave Face is a memoir written by popular Young Adult author, Shawn Hutchinson who mainly pens contemporaries. Those of which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading…yet. While Hutchinson touches on similar issues in his other novels, Brave Face is his personal story, giving readers an in-depth look at the author’s life growing up in the 80’s and 90’s battling severe depression while figuring out who he was and what he wanted to be.In Brave Face, Hutchinson covers a multitude of sensitive and triggering topics such as sex, identity, suicide, depression and drugs. Hutchinson effectively puts his life on display in a way that captures the reader like any good story but is also educational on the above mention topics in a way that’s relatable; something that cannot be taught in school or by parents/families. He tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat anything for the audience. It was personal, real and raw. I appreciated every word of it.As a reader, I personally connected with Hutchinson on what it was like being an adolescent and dealing with depression. The angst was real back then and literally every minuscule thing or incident felt like the end of the world! But on a whole, I think this will resonate with many, if not all teens on self-discovery and identity. At one point in all our lives, we’ve questioned ourselves and I’m sure wore a ton of different masks to try to fit in and be accepted by our peers and then society. Depression was a big theme in this book and it is no joke, I’ve been there as well, and it will eat you from the inside out if you let the voices in your head consume you. Hutchinson’s descriptions about depression was scary accurate from the onset of it to the aftermath; showing us that it doesn’t only hurt the one depressed but goes beyond that to friends and families.Brave Face is more relevant than ever, especially with today’s societal climate. I think it’s mainly billed towards the LGBT community, but this book was so, so much more than that. It’s a book about life and growing up. There were two beautiful nuggets of wisdom that I took from Hutchinson’s memoir, first is that, life is hard and it’s okay NOT to be okay sometimes. Everything takes time and every moment of our lives is a work-in-progress. Go at your own pace. And secondly, don’t ever feel afraid or ashamed to ask for help. We all feel lonely sometimes, but we’re never really alone. All in all, I very much enjoyed Brave Face and am not ashamed to say that I totally ugly cried multiple times in the book. It was all sorts of beautiful, melancholic, humorous and heart-wrenching in your face awesomeness…and I was hooked on every word. And now, I must add Hutchinson’s back-list to my ever-growing TBR pile.
    more
  • Olivia
    January 1, 1970
    Review originally published on my blog,Books and Big Ideas. Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley.I've really enjoyed Shaun David Hutchinson's books We are the Ants and The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, and hope to read more in the future. After I read We Are the Ants a couple of years ago, I watched his keynote speech where he touches on his past with depression and suicide (and rewatching that now, a lot of those stor Review originally published on my blog,Books and Big Ideas. Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley.I've really enjoyed Shaun David Hutchinson's books We are the Ants and The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, and hope to read more in the future. After I read We Are the Ants a couple of years ago, I watched his keynote speech where he touches on his past with depression and suicide (and rewatching that now, a lot of those stories end up in more detail this book). So even though the subject matter is tough, I had to read the full story. This book follows him through high school and some of college, and I particularly liked the inclusion of real diary entries and emails. Trigger warnings are also included.But Brave Face is actually so much more than the early life of a particular YA author. It's about growing up gay during the 90s when the only media representation of gay men was the effeminate, funny sidekick or the promiscuous and drug-addicted man dying from AIDS (and how, as the Internet grows, it allows for more connection). The former he personally couldn't relate to, and the latter he was afraid of becoming. He could not imagine a happy future, and this all conspires with his depression to give him more "reason" to feel worthless and unlovable. He also is on the asexuality spectrum (which he doesn't name but describes in detail in the book, and has named on Twitter), and that affects his relationships and outlook, too. He never claims to represent all or any of those things, but at the same time, he analyzes his own situation with a key eye to the larger context. This is all intentional--present-day Shaun comments on it throughout, contextualizing because this is written for young adults who were not even born yet during this time. And I honestly think it's a dark time in queer history--in between the AIDS crisis and marriage equality--that is rarely talked or written about.I really admired overall how present-day Shaun came through in the book. While teenage Shaun is in a dark place, adult Shaun reminds us the facts of the situation. He replicates his warped and suicidal thoughts, but he also comments on his internalized homophobia throughout the text, not just in the note at the beginning (which I loved because he notes how people change and that's something I needed to hear as a teen). And yeah, maybe he's harder on himself than most of us would be...of course we'd all call our younger selves assholes and point out stupid things we did for the sake of a crush (including starting to smoke). He was also great at inserting facts he might not have known at the time to be informative, like the purpose of ECT treatment and how effective it can be for some (which I particularly appreciated because I've researched that recently). Also, he warns you again right before his suicide attempt and provides you a page number to skip to, which I really appreciated. I'm not often triggered by these things, but I knew it was coming, and so much of the book I felt a creeping sense of dread, wondering if this was the moment. And so that note allowed me to relax.Despite all these struggles, there are still bright spots: a found family of drama clubs, an encouraging creative writing student teacher (literally the position I will have in less than a year??), his lifelong friendship with a girl named Maddie, and smaller anecdotes. For instance, I was delighted that other college campuses are visited by homophobic and generally radical preachers that students go out of their way to bother. His interest in writing is also a brighter spot, and the story of how he wrote a play (that he says is terrible overall, but gives you a key excerpt) that was basically how he came out to himself is amazing and something I connected to as a writer.Not gonna lie, I cried at the sheer honesty and true emotions from friends and family and even the nurse after his suicide attempt. But then I was smiling at the ending, how he essentially fast-forwarded through all the ups and downs in his life and points out how "it gets better" is broadly true, but ignores some of the complications along the way. And this is nonfiction, so I don't need to point out that this is true, but...it is. And that's part of why this book is so important for young people to read and why this isn't a traditional adult-marketed memoir. I know I needed that as a teen.I'm really looking forward to hopefully more YA memoirs in the future (and will I write one myself? ...maybe), and in the meantime, I'm going to go back and read Shaun's other books that I haven't read yet.
    more
  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't depressed because I was gay. I was depressed AND I was gay.Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my all-time favorite YA authors, so I was thrilled to find out he had published a memoir. His autobiographical voice is just as emotional and honest and brutal and hilarious as his fictional characters' narrative voices. When your story is weighed down by heavy issues like depression, suicide, struggling with sexual identity, coming out, and fighting to find your place in the world, it's refreshi I wasn't depressed because I was gay. I was depressed AND I was gay.Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my all-time favorite YA authors, so I was thrilled to find out he had published a memoir. His autobiographical voice is just as emotional and honest and brutal and hilarious as his fictional characters' narrative voices. When your story is weighed down by heavy issues like depression, suicide, struggling with sexual identity, coming out, and fighting to find your place in the world, it's refreshing and tension-relieving to be able to snort-laugh every couple of pages.In the beginning, my dad treated me like every time I walked out the door, I ran the risk of accidentally falling into a swimming pool filled with heroin and dicks.Hutchinson's story mostly focuses on his teen years--both high school and early college--and culminates with his suicide attempt and the immediate aftermath. There's nothing too extremely graphic, so I'm pretty comfortable putting this in my library...and I know there are many students who will connect with the story.My only complaint is that the story just stops after that first year of college. Several chapters then kind of "sum up" the author's life...he describes a few important relationships and moves and life choices only in passing to wrap things up. But I WANTED TO READ ABOUT THOSE THINGS. (I wanted everything up until the moment he wrote the book, to be honest.) I'm guessing he ended things where he did to maintain a more "YA" feel, but it left me feeling let down.
    more
Write a review