At the height of the 1980s AIDS crisis, three teens grapple with love and friendship.
Raised in Tehran, then Toronto, Reza is living in New York City with his mother and new stepfather and stepbrother. Though he is attracted to men, he is paralyzingly afraid of AIDS, equating being gay with death. Judy, who loves fashion, is best friends with Art, the only out student at their school, and both are bullied by fat-shaming, homophobic peers. United in their love for Judy’s uncle Stephen, who is gay and has AIDS—and whom Art sees as a father figure—they become involved in AIDS advocacy. After meeting Reza, the duo find that they are both attracted to him, their friendship strained when Reza and Judy start dating—despite Art and Reza’s undeniable chemistry. In a tribute to gay culture icons, the book depicts the social and political climate of the time in vivid detail, capturing the dichotomy between fear and love and, finally, acceptance. The lack of clinical trials for women and people of color, safe sex, and heteronormativity are highlighted in a nondidactic way along with the legacy of the 1980s gay community, the devastation of HIV/AIDS, present-day joy, and continued violence toward the queer community. Reza and his family are Persian, and Art, Judy, and their families are assumed white. Despite an abrupt ending, a truly lovely romance to cherish.
Deeply moving. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)