When You Call My Name

Holt. May 2022. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250624864.
Gr 10 Up–The year is 1990 and two queer boys on the cusp of adulthood find themselves searching for community and purpose in New York City. Ben is living with his older brother, a doctor, after their mother finds his stash of gay magazines; Adam is working at a film store when he meets the man who will become his boyfriend, first love, and raw introduction to the reality of being a queer man in that era. The boys’ stories are told from alternating points of view and barely intersect, allowing Shaw to comprehensively explore the effects of the AIDS crisis on the queer community. This book is historical fiction, riddled with early 1990s pop culture references that teens may find perplexing, but the frank, personable writing style circumvents many of the challenges the genre often has in generating teen appeal. The subject matter is intense and unspeakably tragic, but it is the deliberate inclusion of belligerent, unrestrained queer joy alongside the characters’ realization that it is almost inevitable they, too, will become victims of the deadly virus, that makes this an invaluable addition to a genre that has largely excluded this piece of history. Ben and Adam both cue white.
VERDICT A first purchase for all professionals serving older teens who seek to diversify their collection.

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