Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Gemma's first school formal is at the end of the year. Her make-up artist brother, who works in New York, is coming home to Australia to do her hair and make-up. She has a crush that she hopes will notice her, a couple of good friends, and a slightly flaky best friend. Then one of her brother's first boyfriends dies. The obituary reads "after a short illness." In Gemma's world, she knows that is code for AIDS. It is the early 1990s and the epidemic is ravaging the world. Until that moment, she never really worried about her brother, Billy, because he and Saul have been together for years. Billy comes home out of the blue and things start to go downhill. What is worse is people's reactions to those who are gay and those with AIDS. Gemma is put in the position of choosing what is the most important to her, to her family, and to those around her. This historical novel highlights a dark time in the early history of the epidemic. Gemma starts as a whiny follower and morphs into someone who will stand up for what she holds dear in a believable way. Unfortunately, a lot of that is lost in a story that is very long and dense, with flashback memories that are not integrated well into the present time line. VERDICT Supplemental purchase for collections where there are avid fans of 1990s historical fiction.-Melyssa Kenney, Parkville High School, MD © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Gemma has always looked up to her brother, Billy. When he came out as gay, she stood by him in the face of their homophobic father. So when Billy promised to come back home from his exciting New York City life to fix her hair for the winter formal, Gemma couldn't wait. His visit home, however, is not a happy one. He has AIDS, and he has come home to die. In the few weeks he has left, Gemma struggles to accept her brother's fate while once again staying strong for Billy this time against a community fearful of his disease. Set in the early 1990s, Gemma's story is a poignant reminder of how the mention of AIDS was once enough to conjure a specter of fear, a good reminder for teens who came of age after figures like Arthur Ashe and Freddie Mercury brought the mysterious disease out of the shadows. Readers will be inspired by Gemma's compassion for Billy as well as her courage to stand up for the people she loves.--Suarez, Reinhardt Copyright 2018 Booklist