Cover Image: Brave Face

Brave Face

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Member Reviews

The first time I tried to read this book I couldn’t seem to get into it. I wasn’t really enjoying it therefore I decided to put it to the side and move on. However, almost a year later I decided to give it another shot. And I really enjoyed it. Although I cannot relate to the life of someone who is homosexual I can relate to the power of depression and that suicidal voice that seems to convince you that you have no worth. This story is so raw and genuine that emotionally it seemed to jump off the page and grab my heart. I dare anyone and not feel for Shaun. This book will not only resonate with young adults who identify as LGBTQ+ but those who deal with or have dealt with depression or a mental illness. I highly recommend this for any young adult collection.
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Shaun David Hutchinson, a seasoned YA fiction author, has brought his skill to the form of a memoir. Shaun's books are absolutely captivating--We Are the Ants and At the Edge of the Universe are particularly popular at my library and are two of my personal favorites. In this memoir for teen readers, Shaun opens up about his struggles as a queer teen dealing with depression.

With Shaun's signature wit and honesty about mental illness, trauma, and queerness, he's crafted a memoir that teens will actually want to read and will enjoy. His story is powerful and will find a loving home with many teens. Readers who've enjoyed his previous works will particularly love this one, but it will also be perfect for any teen reader looking for a true story of mental health. I'll definitely be recommending this at my library.
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I loved the candor in this book. Hutchinson does a nice job sharing his story while also encouraging teen readers to seek the help they need. Needing help is not a character flaw. So well done!
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“I was just a confused kid who’d learned the vocabulary of being gay from a world that hated fags.” -Brave Face

I find few people can write so well about things so personal and this book delivers. This book was brutal. Hutchinson is unflinchingly honest about his depression, self-loathing and confusion as a teen and young adult. It also a book about hope. About grappling with who you are and then being able to become that person. It was also refreshing to read a book that ended in hope. So many fictional LGBT titles end in death and disease and drug addiction even today--just like Hutchinson feared and believed as a kid. I'm tired of the kill your gays trope and I am grateful for a different voice.
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Shaun David Hutchinson delivers a raw look into his life growing up and his own sexuality. Content warning for suicide/self-harm.
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I've read a lot of Hutchinson's work in the past and have to say, this genre seems to fit him better than the rest. I was engaged throughout and felt a connection to the story that isn't present for me with his works of fiction.
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Shaun David Hutchinson is one of the best writers of LGBTQ+ teen fiction today, and I was so excited to read this memoir. It's engaging and beautiful and heartfelt, and it's one of those books i hope to get into the hands of teens even if they may not recognize the author's name (yet!).
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I loved. loved. loved. this book. 

Shaun’s memoir takes the reader through all the gut-punching moments of his adolescence. Although often the book is funny and charming, most of his journey is marked by depression as he struggles with questions of identity. Although Shaun eventually comes to the understanding that his depression is a separate matter than his sexual identity (and not caused by it), this realization arrives after a long trail of self-destruction and self-loathing. 

Growing up in Florida in the 1990s, Shaun finds his own existence a bit of an anomaly: he is gay, but not the “gay” he sees in the media: the flamboyant sidekick in a buddy flick; the promiscuous, night-life-loving party boy in adult magazines; the cautionary HIV statistic on the nightly news. With few other points of reference, Shawn struggles to reconcile with his own identity and questions whether there is room for him outside these clichés. 

A vulnerable, raw memoir.
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I wasn't depressed because I was gay. I was depressed AND I was gay.

Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my all-time favorite YA authors, so I was thrilled to find out he had published a memoir. His autobiographical voice is just as emotional and honest and brutal and hilarious as his fictional characters' narrative voices. When your story is weighed down by heavy issues like depression, suicide, struggling with sexual identity, coming out, and fighting to find your place in the world, it's refreshing and tension-relieving to be able to snort-laugh every couple of pages.

In the beginning, my dad treated me like every time I walked out the door, I ran the risk of accidentally falling into a swimming pool filled with heroin and dicks.

Hutchinson's story mostly focuses on his teen years--both high school and early college--and culminates with his suicide attempt and the immediate aftermath. There's nothing too extremely graphic, so I'm pretty comfortable putting this in my library...and I know there are many students who will connect with the story.

My only complaint is that the story just stops after that first year of college. Several chapters then kind of "sum up" the author's life...he describes a few important relationships and moves and life choices only in passing to wrap things up. But I WANTED TO READ ABOUT THOSE THINGS. (I wanted everything up until the moment he wrote the book, to be honest.) I'm guessing he ended things where he did to maintain a more "YA" feel, but it left me feeling let down.
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Thank you, Netgalley for the digital ARC of this book.

What an important book. This is the first book I’ve read by Shaun David Hutchinson, and it happens to be a memoir. Shaun writes in a vulnerable and transparent way, telling his life story of coming out. It is dark. It’s gritty. It’s painful. And it’s truth. It allowed me to have much greater insight inside the world of someone going through such a difficult time. 

There is a trigger warning at the beginning g of the book and Shaun does a good job of preparing readers where things get real grim. This book won’t be for everyone, but how powerful for this to be a book available to those who need it in their lives.
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I've really enjoyed Shaun David Hutchinson's books We are the Ants and The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, and hope to read more in the future. After I read We Are the Ants a couple of years ago, I watched his keynote speech where he touches on his past with depression and suicide (and rewatching that now, a lot of those stories end up in more detail this book). So even though the subject matter is tough, I had to read the full story. This book follows him through high school and some of college, and I particularly liked the inclusion of real diary entries and emails. Trigger warnings are also included.

But Brave Face is actually so much more than the early life of a particular YA author. It's about growing up gay during the 90s when the only media representation of gay men was the effeminate, funny sidekick or the promiscuous and drug-addicted man dying from AIDS (and how, as the Internet grows, it allows for more connection). The former he personally couldn't relate to, and the latter he was afraid of becoming. He could not imagine a happy future, and this all conspires with his depression to give him more "reason" to feel worthless and unlovable. He also is on the asexuality spectrum (which he doesn't name but describes in detail in the book, and has named on Twitter), and that affects his relationships and outlook, too. He never claims to represent all or any of those things, but at the same time, he analyzes his own situation with a key eye to the larger context. This is all intentional--present-day Shaun comments on it throughout, contextualizing because this is written for young adults who were not even born yet during this time. And I honestly think it's a dark time in queer history--in between the AIDS crisis and marriage equality--that is rarely talked or written about.

I really admired overall how present-day Shaun came through in the book. While teenage Shaun is in a dark place, adult Shaun reminds us the facts of the situation. He replicates his warped and suicidal thoughts, but he also comments on his internalized homophobia throughout the text, not just in the note at the beginning (which I loved because he notes how people change and that's something I needed to hear as a teen). And yeah, maybe he's harder on himself than most of us would be...of course we'd all call our younger selves assholes and point out stupid things we did for the sake of a crush (including starting to smoke). He was also great at inserting facts he might not have known at the time to be informative, like the purpose of ECT treatment and how effective it can be for some (which I particularly appreciated because I've researched that recently). Also, he warns you again right before his suicide attempt and provides you a page number to skip to, which I really appreciated. I'm not often triggered by these things, but I knew it was coming, and so much of the book I felt a creeping sense of dread, wondering if this was the moment. And so that note allowed me to relax.

Despite all these struggles, there are still bright spots: a found family of drama clubs, an encouraging creative writing student teacher (literally the position I will have in less than a year??), his lifelong friendship with a girl named Maddie, and smaller anecdotes. For instance, I was delighted that other college campuses are visited by homophobic and generally radical preachers that students go out of their way to bother. His interest in writing is also a brighter spot, and the story of how he wrote a play (that he says is terrible overall, but gives you a key excerpt) that was basically how he came out to himself is amazing and something I connected to as a writer.

Not gonna lie, I cried at the sheer honesty and true emotions from friends and family and even the nurse after his suicide attempt. But then I was smiling at the ending, how he essentially fast-forwarded through all the ups and downs in his life and points out how "it gets better" is broadly true, but ignores some of the complications along the way. And this is nonfiction, so I don't need to point out that this is true, is. And that's part of why this book is so important for young people to read and why this isn't a traditional adult-marketed memoir. I know I needed that as a teen.

I'm really looking forward to hopefully more YA memoirs in the future (and will I write one myself? ...maybe), and in the meantime, I'm going to go back and read Shaun's other books that I haven't read yet.
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I am not a stranger to Shaun David Hutchinson Shaun’s novels are witty, and thought-provoking, and a little bit bizarre. A perfect combo.

But this, his memoir that will be released on May 19, is important in a way other similar memoirs have not been. Shaun’s memoir gave me insight into a life I don’t have, broadening my ability to empathize and understand. But it also tells the important story of a journey through Shaun identifying his sexuality and the process of accepting that for himself in a way that is, above all, honest. It sends the message that things will get better without creating the impression that one day a magic wand will transform you. I am thankful to Shaun for being brave and willing to share his story because it is one that is going to make a huge impression on anyone that is willing to hear it.

This book is definitely worth your time
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Thanks NetGalley for this preview!

I really enjoyed this book and feel like it is so so important for stories like this to be out there.  While I personally cannot relate to every thing Shaun went through I could still connect to his pain and the tribulations of growing up.  Having a hard time finding friends, knowing when someone was truly interested in you and feeling like you have no one to talk to.  I felt like this story was so raw and genuine.  I also saw so much value in Shaun warning people before the really sensitive parts.  These issues need to be talked about and his consideration to readers allows them to prep for the intense emotions that leap off the page.  I will certainly be reading more from Shaun in the future!
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Thanks to Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for an advanced copy of this to review. Shaun David Hutchinson is one of my favorite authors, and I was so excited to read his memoir. I had the chance to review The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried earlier this year, and Hutchinson has had a great year so far.

At the core, Hutchinson's memoir is heartbreaking, peppered with his constant thoughts of not being good enough. Overall, his memoir reads a lot like a novel, supported with emails, journal entries, and stories from Hutchinson's past. I think this is the memoir that teens need. They can see someone that perhaps struggled with the same problems that they had and made it out the other side. Hutchinson's message isn't just that it gets better. It's that there's hope, and that there's going to be ups and downs, but the ups are worth it.

Hutchinson also provides trigger warnings, as well as giving readers the ability to skip the section about his suicide attempt. His discussion of mental health, and talking about getting help, is important for teens that might find themselves in similar situations. An important memoir that should find its way into any and every library.
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Another great book by Shaun David Hutchinson.   This book was incredibly inspiring and should be read by ALL teens.  This memoir is not only a great book for teens struggling with their sexual identity but for ANY teen that has felt lost, lonely,confused, bullied, depressed, and rejected.  Many parts of this book were heartbreaking but many parts were so funny.   I am so glad Mr. Hutchinson wrote this book and when published I will add this to my paperback collection.   5 stars indeed!
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Shaun David Hutchinson's revealing memoir Brave Face is a hard book to read, something he acknowledges up front. Though a book filled with both tears and joy - for me as the reader, though I'm sure for the author as well - I read this book in one sitting. As difficult as some of the scenes were to read, the pull of Hutchinson's raw soul drew me in and kept me in to the final word.

It's hard to review a memoir. How do you say a person's life was depicted well or not well? Here's what I can say: this book is poignant, honest, and direct. Hutchinson shares his slow realization of his gayness, his decline into depression, his struggles with friendships and relationships, and his suicide attempt and subsequent stay in a treatment facility with blunt honesty and searing emotion.
When I was a teen, my uncle, who worked for Bantam Books at the time, sent me a book called Dee Snider's Teenage Survival Guide. In it, Dee Snider, lead vocalist of the band Twisted Sister, revealed harrowing experiences from his own teen years that made me realize I was not alone in my teen angst. I cherished that book, and still have it to this day.

I hope that Brave Face does for this generation of teens what Dee's book did for me. I'm not gay, but I could empathize with Hutchinson's dilemma of discovering one's true sexuality, not being able to associate oneself with the stereotype of the Hollywood character in Mannequin or Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. Of not knowing who you are and trying desperately to find your place. Of wanting to just give up because everything feels like it hurts so much.

Brave Face is a hard read. But a worthy read for sure.
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An illuminating look at the author's life. Hutchinson managed to write his memoirs with the same voice that comes through in his books, leading to an interesting and fast paced book.
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Wow. I was impressed by this memoir, from its sensitive handling of difficult subjects, its frankness, its nostalgia, and how many times I felt seen. As a composition instructor, I like to have books on hand that tangentially relate to the theme of the class or just for my students to peruse. This will be one of them. I’m already working out a way to get my students to read this, even if I don’t work in contemporary fiction.

I struggle with rating memoirs, because it always seems like you’re rating someone’s life story, but I think Shaun David Hutchinson’s writing is what really makes this memoir shine. Written both beautifully and accessibly, with thoughtful trigger warnings, and the inclusion of materials - I was struck by how well put together this was.

There were some moments where I felt the book dragged, particularly in the middle, which is what knocked in down a star for me. I would hate for a student to give up on this book halfway. 

Can I also just mention that I cannot believe that this is actually my first book from Shaun David Hutchinson? I desperately need to go back and read the rest of his fiction now.
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I have greatly enjoyed every one of Shaun David Hutchinson's books that I have read so far and am sure that I will enjoy the ones that I haven't, once I get to them. So, I was very happy to read his memoir. 

This was not always an easy book to read, but I see it as a really important one. It is unflinchingly honest and talks about some really important topics. 

I think that this is an important book for people to read. I am really glad I got a chance to. There are many more things that I could say about this book, but they are really hard to put into words. I will say that a lot of what was said in this book really resonated with me and I could see my own experiences in these words and I am sure that other people will be able to as well. Shaun David Hutchinson was really brave to put this into words and to put it out into the world, but I think that this book could be important to people.
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I really loved this book.  It was a little heartbreaking, and reminded me of my time in high school, when you don't always have words for the way you feel.  Everything seems bigger when you're that age and this book captured that feeling perfectly.  I can't recommend it highly enough.
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