“I just… I don’t know. Everything feels pointless.” “Sometimes.” “Then why bother?” “Because why not?”

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Overall, Brave Face gets pretty dark, I can’t lie. But the main point, illustrated in the author’s note, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that the bad stuff isn’t forever. There is hope in Brave Face, towards the end. This isn’t a feel-good novel, and that’s fine – life isn’t always feel-good. 

A consistent theme of music, mostly punk, threads Brave Face together. While I’m fairly unfamiliar with the genre of late-nineties punk, I’ve been exploring it recently. Listening to the same music that young Shaun was listening to, whether in happy or sad circumstances, added a whole ‘nother level to the reading experience. (Like those picture books where you can press a button and it plays a tinny version of Old MacDonald or whatever.)  

Memoirs and autobiographies can be tricky to write, the author often trying to cover too much time and never getting detailed enough. That is not the case with Brave Face, Hutchinson setting out to cover a distinct period of time and sticking too it. He writes a complete picture of his younger years, relatable to anyone who’s gone through or is slogging through them.

Hutchinson has written my favorite memoir, and one of my favorite novels of all time. Brave Face is not only essential for queer teens but for anyone whose relationship with depression is much closer than it should be. As Hutchinson states towards the end of the novel, he wrote Brave Face because he wanted to expand on the phrase “It Gets Better.” And sir, how you have succeeded. The honesty and detail in his writing is incredible, and hopefully will find and connect with all the people who need it. Rating: five/five.

Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4vnzDyDazVWc6oHX3lMt4v

Favorite quotes: 

 

  • “Every day, at least once, I silently wish I wasn’t gay. See, basically, being gay involves choices and fears. The choice is how to go about finding love. The fear is that I never will.”
  • “Instead of being able to go out and buy a book about a closeted gay kid who’s scared of becoming a stereotype while coming to terms with being gay that could have helped me understand what I was going through, I’d needed to write my own.”
  • “I’d never ride a rocket into out space, so standing at the edge of the ocean was probably the closest I’d get to touching something boundless and greater than myself. For me, the ocean had a way of putting the rest of the world into context for a couple seconds.”
  • “I don’t believe in God or fate or any type of predestination. But I do believe that every single thing we’ve done leads to everything we do, and that it’s kind of pointless to regret the past when it’s the cause of our present. Which, I get is stupid if your present sucks, but the present will soon become your past.”

 

Review by: Ivy