Like A Love Story is an amazing and gripping story about three somewhat misfit teenagers in New York City in 1989, trying to find out who they are and where they belong. It’s also such an important, necessary, story about the LGBTQ movement, the AIDS crisis and the ACT UP activism, giving voice to the heroes behind the formation of a queer community fighting for everyone’s right to be themselves against homophobia and prejudices. But most of all it’s a story about friendship, finding the courage to be true to who you are and learning to love and be proud despite all discrimination and cruelty around you.
“The most important four-letter word in our history will always be LOVE. That’s what we are fighting for. That’s who we are. Love is our legacy.”
The characters are amazing, so lovable and unique. I don’t even know where to start… There’s Reza, an Iranian boy who is new at school and terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself; that he is attracted to boys. But all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS. Then there’s Art, the school’s only out teen and the flamboyant, rebellious son of wealthy and conservative parents, and Judy, an aspiring fashion designer and hopeless romantic. And last, but absolutely not least, Judy’s uncle Stephen, an ACT UP activist and Hollywood fanatic, dying of AIDS. Art and Judy have always been best friends, spending every Sunday night watching old movies at Uncle Stephen’s and telling each other absolutely everything. But, when Reza stumbles into their lives and starts dating Judy (and Art starts catching feelings), things get a little bit more complicated.
These characters are what made the story! I adored every single one of them as the story unfolded. Abdi Nazemian describs them with such integrity and empathy, allowing them to be real, with flaws and less likeable traits, and in a way that made you fall in love with them and break your heart when theirs did. Reza, Art, Judy and Stephen immediately seared themselves into my heart. And the side characters are just as loveable. Judy’s parents, Reza’s wonderful supportive and rebellious sister, and even Reza’s stepdad and stepbrother in the end.
And Madonna! This book is also a wonderful homage to Madonna. She’s almost like a character in the book, that’s how big her part is. I absolutely love how the importance Madonna has, and has always had, for the queer community and the courage to self-expression and individually, is so knowledgeable described. I couldn’t stop myself from humming her songs while reading, like a soundtrack.
The way Abdi Nazemian writes is simply amazing. This is such a fast read, I felt like I was flying through this book. From the very first page, the story just pulled me in and I couldn’t put it down. I read it feverishly and finished it in one sitting! The topic is heavy at times, with the fear of dying, the fear of condemnation and of being rejected and humiliated, but the way Abdi Nazemian writes about those who were dying is so respectful, yet honest and realistic. There is absolutely no glorification of AIDS, all the grit and horror that went along with it are kept real. I loved the detail with Uncle Stephen keeping a jar with jelly beans for each friend who has died. It’s not often that you find a new voice in YA literature, but the storytelling in this book is completely unique and refreshing. It’s so raw and honest, so vivid in the description of the fear of AIDS and discrimination, cruelty and violence, but also so hopeful and loving, so full of activism, friendship and community, courage and pride.
“Don’t forget me. Us. All of us. What we did. What we fought for. Our history. Who we are. They won’t teach it in schools. They don’t want us to have a history.”
Well, with this book, Abdi Nazemian has changed that. Uncle Stephen, Art, Reza and all others in the queer community of the late 80’s now have a history. A history that will be taught in schools.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez