Freak Show - by James St. James
Freak Show

"You’ll relate to this drag queen – even if you’re straight."

THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY, UNRELENTLESSLY FABULOUS!! I'm not gonna lie. James St. James's novel Freak Show is the story of a misunderstood gay teenager in the marshlands of Florida. It chronicles the encompassing rise of the school FREAK SHOW! The main character, Billy Bloom, really defines the word rebel, just by being himself, a gay drag queen (a double negative I guess you could say) and I can really relate to him (even though I am straight). He lives off of shock value, going so far as dressing in full drag to school one day - which ends sadly, but he recovers.

Billy falls in love with school football hero, Flip Kelly. He runs for homecoming queen, (you’ll have to read the book to find out if he wins!!) It’s one of those books where, in the dead silence if a boring class lecture, you will burst into laughter or start talking to the book. It also has one of the sweetest endings I have ever read (the likes of which I shall not be spoiling you with), which almost put me in a diabetic coma! St. James truly knows how to captivate and ensnare an audience. Billy's rambling can get kind of repetitive at times, but throughout most of this book, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll become a rebel (well maybe not) -  but I hope you will enjoy the book!

    - Bryan G.

"Billy’s sarcastic personality balances the seriousness of the story."

When my English teacher told the class about Freak Show, a new book about the life of a drag queen,  I was instantly interested. I have a friend who is a drag queen and his personality is amazing, so I decided to find out if the main character was anything like my friend. Turned out to be almost exact. This book is extremely hilarious, the funniest book I have ever read. Billy Bloom, the main character, is hysterical, although if you want to read this book, you must keep an open mind to Billy's personal feelings, as you have to do with all characters.

      The way this book was written made it an easy read. I found myself flying though the pages with ease. The humor made me want to keep reading. James St. James wrote beautifully and did a wonderful job of showing how hard it is to fit into a new school, especially if you are just yourself. As Billy Bloom goes through the trials of fitting in and the hardship of being who he truly is, St. James mixes in the sarcastic view of Billy's personality with the seriousness of the story. This makes for a great balance.

      This book though has a couple of long parts, but doesn’t life? In life, crazy things that happen that make people think 'what in the world' and so do the crazy things in this book about relationships. Even though it has a couple of parts that seem to drag, the ending makes up for it. It is a happy ending, and even so, it still seems plausible, which is not true of a lot of books.

      I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a book to cheer you up, and or for an easy read. I advise you to have an open mind though. I think the point St. James is trying to make is sometimes being yourself can make yourself an outcast. But if you’re not yourself, then you are nobody. It teaches you to stay strong; you will be respected in the end.  I really did enjoy this book. It has made me think of things in a whole new way.

    - Avenley H.

"pokes fun at those who use the Bible as justification for being hateful"

Look out world because here he comes:  Billy Bloom has entered the building!  James St. James has wonderfully created a story that is sure to spit on every morality issue any sanctimonious Christian could hold dear to their heart.  Don't misinterpret my feelings toward this book; I myself am a Christian and enjoyed this book.  However, it definitely pokes fun at anyone who uses the Bible as justification to be hateful or disrespectful of another human being.

Have you ever made a decision you regretted later?  Were you entirely confident of the decision until you watched your plan explode into a million pieces?  If you answered "Yes" to either one of these questions, you have at least one thing in common with Mr. Billy Bloom.  Billy is a gay transvestite.  Though this simple fact distinguishes him from a vast majority of high schoolers, he makes the same naïve mistakes, goes through the same sexual urges, and thinks in the same rude and inappropriate way that all high schoolers do.  So, if you thought that you couldn't relate a high school drag queen, you were wrong.  In addition, Billy Bloom's wit and novel remarks will leave clenching your chest in pain from laughing so hard.

Dramatic irony is an almost painful process.  The author allows you to watch the hero of his or her story walk directly into his doom.  And what can you do?  Absolutely nothing.  Well, this was how I felt as Billy got ready for his first day at his new high school.  He has been kicked out of his mother's house for reasons unknown to us, so he is forced to move in with his father.  Unfortunately, his father happens to live in Florida and intends to send him to a conservative prep school.  You know the stereotypical country club boys and their richer-than-sin female counter parts?  These are the inhabitants of Eisenhower Academy.  Billy decides to think rationally about how he can appear to be the most masculine person in the school but realizes that the most masculine character he ever portrayed was a pirate.  Imagine what you would have said to someone who showed up to their first day of high school in a pirate outfit.  Now multiply your reaction by 100 and you would have Billy Bloom's first day of high school.

The story of Billy's struggle for acceptance and his journey to manhood is fabulously entertaining.  The book is well written, once you excuse his over capitalization and over use of italics, with a compelling plot and compelling characters.  As much as I enjoyed reading this book, I have to offer one bit of criticism.  The ending was absolutely horrendous.  I almost wanted to pretend I hadn't finished the book so that I could finish it better in my mind.  Possibly the worst thing a writer can do is write a wonderful story only to ruin it in less than a page.  I offer a warning label to anyone who is sanctimonious, homophobic, or both, but highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun light read with a hint of controversy.

    - Drew S.