Thursday, May 5, 2022

Book Review: "When You Call My Name" by Tucker Shaw

Gorgeous and emotional, When You Call My Name evoked such memories for me.

It’s 1990 in New York City. Adam is 17 and has just been asked out on a date by Callum, an aspiring conductor. Adam quickly falls for Callum, who is a few years older than him, but something seems to be holding Callum back.

Ben left his upstate New York home after his mother discovered his secret stash of gay magazines, and he heads to NYC to live with his brother, who is a doctor. Fashion-obsessed Ben gets a glimpse into the world he wants to be a part of, and he falls in love with the city and its possibilities, even if his brother doesn’t quite get him.

When Callum disappears, Adam desperately searches for him, until he finds that he’s in the hospital, slowly declining from AIDS. Adam devoted himself to caring for Callum until he reaches the end, and the toll that AIDS has taken on the gay community overwhelms him.

One night, when Adam is at his most vulnerable, he meets Ben near Callum’s hospital. Ben realizes that Adam is in pain and needs help, and although their connection is brief, they begin seeing each other at random times. Sometimes their encounters are meaningful, sometimes they say the wrong things, but both start to depend on one another more than they’re prepared to admit.

This is such a beautiful book, one that so accurately captures the mood of 1990, the sadness, defiance, anger, and fear that pervaded the LGBTQ community at that time. It’s a book about the power of friendship, love, chosen and blood family, and finally finding yourself. This reminded me a little of The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (a favorite of mine from a few years ago) in the emotions and nostalgia it evoked.

Thanks so much to Fierce Reads, Storygram Tours, and Tucker Shaw for inviting me on the tour for this book and providing a complimentary advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

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