Freak Show

by James St. James

Could Billy Bloom be any more fabulous? Having just moved from Darien, Connecticut,... read more

Could Billy Bloom be any more fabulous? Having just moved from Darien, Connecticut, to finish out his senior year in a conservative suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Billy faces extreme culture shock: he is a teenage drag queen, super freak, and self-proclaimed gender obscurist. He has great wit, style, and attitude; unfortunately, his classmates at Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy don’t appreciate him. From the moment he throws open the door to his first period Biology class, wearing a ruffled lace shirt, high-waisted blue pants, and a Prussian-blue military jacket (”What’s straighter than a pirate?”), Billy becomes the school pariah. He’s gay-baited and queer-bashed relentlessly, particularly by the Backseat Boys, as Billy calls the members of the varsity football team who occupy the last row of seats in the classroom. In the face of daily taunting, pummeling, and general humiliation, Billy maintains his dignity and his sense of humor. Even though he curls up in a cupboard and cries at home, he courageously returns to school each day, daring to be himself. Beneath Billy Bloom’s hilariously melodramatic rantings and capitalized pronouncements, there’s a serious story about a sensitive boy’s search for love and acceptance. There’s also a strong streak of social satire running throughout the book, as Billy makes his witty, acerbic observations about life in the “reddest of the red states. . . where even the crustiest crack whore is a registered Republican and Gloria Estefan is inexplicably the biggest star in the world.” (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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