Freak Show, by James St. James, is the story of a young drag queen, Billy, who is trying to get the people at his school to like and accept him … by dressing up as a swamp monster in green makeup. The narrator of this story automatically struck me as being the most flamboyant human being on earth.
The story opens with talk of makeup and sewing scraps of fabric together to make FABULOUS new fashion statements. Billy is, in essence, the gayest human being that ever walked the fictional earth. Billy's attempts to fit in at his high school are, quite frankly, freaking hilarious. This book doesn’t miss a beat with the humor of being an outcast or the insanity that come from homophobic students.
On this first day of school at his new high school, Billy walks into his biology class and greets each and every student with an "air peck" on the cheek and scans the room for his first friend. He sits down next to a beefy, flat-faced guy named Bernie and quickly begins commenting on how amazing his fashion sense is, all the while biting his tongue at how incredibly horrible it actually is. Then, out of nowhere, as Billy puts his hand on him, Beefy Bernie shouts, "Touch me again faggot, and I'll kick the crap out of you!" Whoa… WHOA. Where did that come from?
Part of the reason why this story is great is because of how completely shameless it is. Never does the narrator apologize for who he is, nor does he seek to change himself after the kids in his biology class nearly kill him. Instead, he comes back, wearing fruitier clothing with more pizzazz, more sequins, more fake pig’s blood!
For one, I know that a lot of people on this website will hate this book, mainly because there seems to be a general consensus that drag queens and flamboyant gay guys make the gay community "look bad," but for those with and open mind, you will love this book as much as I have. Billy's delusions of being accepted if he puts on just a little more lip-gloss keep the story going while the reader is thinking, "No… he didn't."
From love interest to crushes, from running for homecoming queen to accidental "swim suit malfunctions" during gym class, this story keeps the reader interested. Completely unpredictable and surprisingly lighthearted, I highly recommend this book. Read it! You won't be sorry.