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Debbie Harry sings in French
Book
2008
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Trade Reviews

  Booklist Review

Debut author Brothers tackles the topic of teenage transvestism in this ode to '80s music. After a stint in rehab where the music of Blondie becomes his recovery touchstone, 16-year-old former alcoholic Johnny is sent to live with his uncle to start anew. School bullies call him faggot, but eyeliner-wearing Johnny knows he's not gay because he's smitten with Maria, a Goth chick who shares his love of '80s punk. Maria helps him explore his need to cross-dress by encouraging him to enter a drag contest as Debbie Harry, while Johnny's unconditional love helps her come to terms with past suicidal impulses. With Maria's support and his family's gradual acceptance, Johnny learns to proudly embrace his inner Debbie. Though the story takes time to build momentum and the prose occasionally slides into cliché, this compelling and ultimately uplifting novel fills a niche in the growing body of GLBTQ literature for teens. Offer this to groupies of James St. James' Freak Show (2007), Cecil Castelucci's Beige (2007), and Ellen Wittlinger's Parrotfish (2007).--Hubert, Jennifer Copyright 2008 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

After a trip to the emergency room occasioned by an adverse drug-alcohol interaction, troubled, Blondie-obsessed Johnny moves from Tampa to South Carolina to stay with his uncle. There he meets Maria, the cool girl at school who shares his love of punk music. He loves everything he hears, but he loves Debbie Harry the most: her voice, her fierce look and the power behind her music. All he can think about is stepping into her clothes and onto the stage. Readers will know that Johnny isn't queer: He's crushing on Maria, protecting her from a bullying ex and trying to set things right in his life. Debbie abets his eminently believable transition, acting as much more than obsession--she's his role model. Brothers's characters and voices stay right on target along the way; plotting is the only problematic element, specifically the dispersed and winding expository beginning. Teens probably won't mind, however, and will most likely get sucked right in to Johnny's world of punk, strife, curiosity and confusion. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
<p>Johnny's had kind of a tough life so far, and he's always been a bit of a freak. His goth look usually includes black nail polish and a little mascara.When he discovers Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, he not only likes her music but realizes that he kind of, sort of, wants to BE her. He'd like to be cool and tough and beautiful like her. He'd like to dress like her. He's not gay, at least he doesn't think so. So what does it mean? And what should he tell his amazing new girlfriend?</p> <p>This wise, hip novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and-white ideas of sexuality and gender. Anyone who has ever wished they could be a little bit tough and a little bit glamorous will recognize themselves in Johnny.</p>
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