am, you may know, a bit Manic In Print (as opposed to Real Life, where I am slothish). I am a fan of enthusiasm and energy and shouting. I enjoy a careful consideration with some tea, but I abashedly love for things to be big and loud.
Like Freak Show is.
Billy hits a lot of my Love Buttons. He is all-capsy. He has an excellent vocabulary because he watches a lot of Gilmore Girls. He describes his first-day-of-school outfit as ‘post-pirate.’ A pirate who’s ‘getting out of the life. But slowly, you know. I’m lubbin’ the land but missing my parrot. Yarg.’ PIRATE TALK! Billy, how did you know.
So that’s fun. And you will need said fun. You will need Billy’s shouting and his glitter and his tulle because the actual plot, the goings-on of the novel are pretty hellacious. Teenage Drag Queen Moves To Southern Backwater To Attend Elite Prep School Full Of Homophobic J-Crew Models can only end poorly. There are…how do I put this delicately. There are punchings.
So things go very badly. And then unexpectedly better. And then exceedingly, a touch unbelievably, well. And then badly again. And then the ending happens, which I will not illuminate, because being told whether a book ends badly or well is the spoilingest spoiler there is.
And Billy is the only thing that makes it readable (nay, delightful!), and he’s so winsome and chirping that you almost can’t grasp the enormity of the situation, and suddenly you peer past the tra-la-las at what is actually happening and you are horrified. But then Billy! And his irrepressible gaiety and gayness! And his unlikely friendship with the god-like Flip Kelly! And his likelier friendship with the unprepossessing Blah Blah Blah! And his agonies! And his triumphs! And his COSTUMES!
Eight caterpillars. Let your freak flag fly.