Brandon, James. “Ziggy, Stardust and Me”, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers,2019.
Falling In Love
“Ziggy Stardust and Me” is set in 1973, when homosexuality was still considered a mental illness. The Watergate hearings were in full swing and the Vietnam War was still going on. Homosexuality was still officially considered a mental illness. We meet sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins who has been bullied and he is anxious. He also has asthma and is totally alone aside from his alcoholic father and a sympathetic neighbor and friend named Starla. In order to deal with this, he escapes into his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and his mother and other dead relatives, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. Here he can be anything he wants. It so happens that Jonathan is gay undergoing conversion therapy reality so that he will be completely “normal” when he completes his treatments, he will be normal (or so he hopes). However, Web walks into his life and he is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: “fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.”
Jonathan just wants to be “fixed” once and for all but he’s drawn to Web who is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web becomes the escape that Jonathan has never known and for the first time in his life, he finally feels free enough to love and accept himself as he is.
Quite simply, this is a beautiful book both plot-wise and prose-wise. The theme of self-acceptance, even when the world is far from accepting works beautifully and the stream of consciousness style works wonderfully. Writer James Brandon includes historical events of the time into the story giving us a sense of reality. We enter Jonathan’s “adolescent frame of mind and sense of dignity and his search to distinguish between right and wrong.” This is an emotional story about love that just might make you weep.