Summary: Freak Show by James St. James is the story of lovable teenager Billy Bloom. Billy Bloom isn’t your average seventeen year old. What makes him unique is that he is a fabulous drag queen. He lives a pretty nice life in Connecticut, but one day, his mom decides to send him off to his father in Florida. Billy does not like his new school. It is full of bullies and hypocrites. He then meets Flip, a football player who is more than just a dim-witted jock. Billy gets bullied and even ends up in a hospital at one point, but his story is both funny and heartbreaking for everyone.
Strengths: This book is realistic fiction, but to be a bit more specific, it falls into the category of Teen LGBQT Fiction. In realistic fiction, you have to have believable characters and also try to avoid stereotypes. One might think that a book that focuses on a drag queen is going to be full of stereotypes. Though it is true that some of the bullies he encounters are a bit one-dimensional, Billy is not a stereotypical gay person. It’s interesting to see the world through his eyes and see what he has to go through on a daily basis. The same can be said about Flip, a jock who is not such a meathead. The theme itself is relevant and realistic to a lot of teenagers these days are just too afraid to be themselves over the worry of not only what people are going to think of them, but also their actions, as we can see that Billy ended up in the hospital.
Connections to the Text: The main character, Billy is still a teenager and still developing as a human. According to the developmental stages of Havighurst, teenagers are “defining appropriate sex roles.” To me, Billy is past this, knowing full well who he is as a person. That being said, he is trouble going through Maslows hierarchy of needs. As he reaches for love/belonging, and esteem, he is troubled by bullies all around him. He is constantly being knocked down to worry about his safety, hindering his process to self actualization.