I’ve never before read a book I’ve been so torn over that I could have given it anything from one star to five.
Jude lives in a small town in America where he simply doesn’t fit in, preferring to wear lipstick and heels, to jeans and jockstraps. Always seeing himself as the outsider, he lives his life as if it were a movie. The jibes and hate thrown his way, are just the sounds of jealous fanatics, wishing they could have his glamorous lifestyle. The flashes of camera-phones, every time he finds himself being shamed and abused, are the paparazzi, documenting his every move, because his life is so much more exciting than their own.
He has become hardened by the hatred towards him, because how else would he survive?
On the one hand, this makes for an incredibly honest, but also heartbreaking, account of how hard it is to grow up different to those around you. On the other hand, however, it does mean that even the reader does not get to see the other side of the facade.
I kept waiting for that moment when we would catch a glimpse of what lies beneath the sarcasm and hard-outer shell that Jude has been forced to encase himself in, but was only really left rather disappointed.
There are signs throughout that he feels more than he lets on, with comments about how he notices the number of exclamation marks the bullies use when they write him abusive letters, perhaps suggesting he spends longer dwelling on them than he likes to pretend he does. However, that’s all we get to see, and I couldn’t help feeling like it’s sad that we the reader never even get to see the real Jude either.
The ending is very powerful, and probably saved the story for me, because it highlights the brutality suffered by those in Jude’s situation, but even with that, I was still left wanting more.
Perhaps, however, that is Raziel Reid’s genius: maybe somehow it’s right that we never get to know the true Jude, because, as a society, we repeatedly fail to let the true Jude’s of the world show themselves.
I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.