Like a Love Story

Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins/. Jun. 2019. 432p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062839367.
Gr 9 Up–A story of three teens who come together in New York City during the AIDS crisis in 1989–90. Reza is an Iranian immigrant who is trying to come to terms with being gay at a time when all that seems to promise is disease and death. Judy is a blossoming fashion designer with her eyes set on first love as she begins dating Reza. Art is Judy’s out, proud, and dramatic best friend, who also shares feelings for Reza. Guided by Judy’s uncle Stephen, whose health is failing from the disease, the three become involved in the ACT UP movement, which stages protests in support of better treatment for those diagnosed with AIDS. Eventually, Reza admits his feelings for Art and the two begin dating, causing a rift between them and Judy. Reza’s fear of being physically intimate with Art is a major factor in their relationship, but there is some sexual content. Despite the heavy topic, the novel also brings joy as it celebrates gay culture and a shared love of Madonna. Well-developed split narration among the three friends demonstrates their equal importance to the story, and Uncle Stephen is just as fully explored. The urban setting is richly realized and integral to the story. In this highly emotional work, the teens’ feelings are fully expressed and appropriate to their experiences.
VERDICT Give to fans of alternative historical fiction or LGBTQ+ romance.

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