Cover Image: When You Call My Name

When You Call My Name

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Member Reviews

When You Call My Name honestly broke me and slowly tried to put me together again. This is a beautiful beautiful story. It is set during the 1980s and 1990s and is centered around the HIV/AIDS epidemic. No book with this as it's central premise is going to be happy but, this one has somehow also found a way to bring a sense of hope. A sense of hope filled with the acknowledgement of the loss and the need for healing in a community of broken souls. 

When You Call My Name made me feel like I was right on the streets of NYC with the characters of Adam, Cullum, and Ben. I adored there characters and the way that their stories intersected throughout.  All three characters are gay and trying to find their own identitjes in this large city. The AIDS epidemic has affected each of them personally and how they view their lives now. I really wanted to just give each of them a hug. 

The writing of this story is so vivid and beautiful. You can picture what is being described and at times feel like you can reach out and touch them. These locations play a key notes in several of the events in this story. Key events that change the course for each character and strengthen them. Some of this gave me goosebumps, filled my eyes with tears, and caused me to paused in my reading. It is just so good!

Popular culture plays a huge note in this book as well. For Adam, it's the popular music of the day especially Madonna.  For Callum, it's classical music and the method of composing art. For Ben, music is important but, the popular culture that really captures his eye in photograph form. All the characters that each male character encounters plays a role in their personal growth and experience.  This is like a love letter to the experiences of the late 80s/90s for the queer population in NYC.  

When You Call My Name is honestly difficult for me to review because it is about so many things. There is acceptance and caring to terms with who you are. There is al this wonderful idea of found family and being loved no matter what unexpected events come your way. Adam, Callum, and Ben are all going through different experiences but, these experiences were all interconnected in so many different ways. Like I said, I wanted to give each of them a hug and hold them one and make them feel safe. These are three characters who will stay with me for a long long time.
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This is such an important book! There are many non-fiction books for teens about the HIV/AIDS crisis, but often fiction feels more real than non-fiction can and I think this is a good example of that. This story shows the devastation that AIDS had on the queer community in New York in 1990, but also the hope and pride that the community hung on to. 

1990 was only 32 years ago. It seems unfathomable that such a short time ago so many people were dying so quickly and there was no known treatment. This is an important piece of history and this book does a very good job of capturing that moment in time. 

Not only is it historically important though, it was also a very fun read with a bunch of great relationships and a killer soundtrack.
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If you get a chance to read this book, I highly recommend reading it. The characters and their development were absolutely beautiful. Be warned, these characters do face some trauma in this book that will completely shatter your heart. The way they handled the situation, though, was beautifully written by the author. Overall, this book was excellent and I highly recommend reading it.
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Thanks to NetGalley & Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) for the copy in exchange for an honest review. I was unable to finish it and left it at 40% of the way through.

The character dialogue is pretty quick and snappy but chock-full of 90's references that aren't ever explained so it's hard to understand why a character saying "X" thing means it's bad in a situation.

I really could not keep track of the shifting POVs because Adam and Ben sound exactly the same and have no distinct voices to me whatsoever. 

From what the reviews say, the shift in POVs starts making sense later in the book but I find that sort of angle frustrating. It really wasn't hooking me in, it just felt like constant back and forth dialogue with no end in sight. Definitely not for me, unfortunately.
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I enjoyed this one!! Such an original concept even though the premise seems done already! This was a very good book and I’d buy it for my shelves in a heartbeat!
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This was incredible, such an important time for the LGBTQ+ community which has been forgotten by many due to the people that left us. I cannot recommend this enough, I've told all my friends about it! What a wonderful story.
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I made it about 60% through this book before giving up. Initially, I had decided to wait for the audiobook as I was having a hard time getting through the ebook, but after purchasing the audiobook via audible, I have came to the conclusion that this book just isn't for me. I like the characters, but I think the plot is a bit murky and is taking a bit longer to get to the roots of the book. I feel like some parts of this story feel cluttered, and I would prefer for the story to be a bit more concise.
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So. This book. This book is about two boys; Adam and Ben. They are 18. They are gay. They are in New York City in 1990. Ben has left home and come to the city to live with his brother. Adam has met a man named Callum and is going on a date with him. Over the next several months- and several hundred pages- their stories will unfold, cross, re-cross, and weave together.

I love this book. I cried several times while reading it. I sighed in nostalgia for the cusp of the 80s and 90s while reading it. And I felt the white-hot rage that has never quite gone away; the rage at AIDS and how our society chose to react to it.

Adam and Ben and the people around them are painted in a realistic light and are dealing with real issues from the time. AIDS is part of the story- a huge part of the story- but the author builds a very real and very compelling world. Every character has moments of insight or revelation. And there's a framing sequence that pays off beautifully at the end.

Like I said, I love this book. I highly recommend it.
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“He squinted at himself. Why can’t he be beautiful? Everything would be easier if he was beautiful.”

When You Call My Name follows Adam and Ben, two gay teens with different backgrounds, as they learn about themselves, friendship, and love.

This book is so indescribably real. Every word I read felt like it had been lived, because it has. When You Call My Name depicts the struggle of the LGBTQ+ community during the AIDS epidemic, and the fight for love. 

There’s no one demographic I would recommend this book to. Anyone could read this book and learn something from it, and I encourage whoever reads this to do so. 

This short review took a while to write, because When You Call My Name left me speechless for days after I finished it. For that reason, I’ll let the book do the rest of the talking.

“The opening scene is easy. Exterior: Greenwich Village. The first week of a new decade. A gust of wind, a lucky taxi, a question. Will you come? And then the rest will unfold in mysterious and surprising ways. But there will be no happy ending, because there will be no ending at all. The movie will last forever.”
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This book is set during the height of the AIDS epidemic and it's about two gay teenagers (17 and 18, I think), coming of age. It's technically a romance between these two gay teenagers, but their coming of age is more at the forefront, I think? You kind of know that they're eventually going to get together, and I didn't really feel one way or another about it. The pop culture references in this book are also kind of rough, especially because for a lot of them, I Simply Didn't Get Them, I Am Too Young. 

And it's really sad, and really slow in some places, and I think maybe I'd like to read it slowly, over the course of a summer instead of fairly rapidly for a review. (Honestly I was approved for this in December so that one's on me.)  Four and a half stars, rounded down for NetGalley.
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Beautifully written, and with a truly excellent sense for characterization (I don't think there's a single character here, no matter how minor, that doesn't come off as fully realized) I think this book deserves to be read far and wide, not just for the significance of its' subject matter, but for how good of a story it tells. (And, of course, for the lovingly depicted look at NYC in the 90's!) Shaw does a really good job of compiling details - listing off where people are going and what they're wearing - which adds an even greater sense of depth to the characters and scenes depicted here.

Really, the only thing that didn't work for me, I'm sorry to say, was Adam and Ben's relationship. You keep waiting for them to come together and then when they do they're both just kind of...there. Compared to literally every other character interaction (no matter how one off) their scenes felt so dull and shoe-horned in. I think a stronger sense of who they were going to be to each other might have helped, or even if they had just met a smidge earlier so they could've helped each other more overtly.

Aside from that though, this is a wonderful book that is important for younger readers to have. I would definitely recommend it.
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When You Call My Name is a bittersweet story that takes place during the height of the AIDS epidemic, of two strangers whose paths cross more than once, and who eventually become friends.  But their seemingly random meetings throughout the story are always surrounded by heartache and pain. 

Adam has met the love of his life, but a secret that Callum carries threatens their relationship. Ben’s own secret forces him from his mother’s home, which leads to new beginnings for Ben. 

Be prepared with tissues when you read this because it will be hard to get through it without crying at least once. It is an eye-opening account of what much of the gay community had to face in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—blame, ridicule, prejudice, death, hopelessness, fear.  There is truth behind the fiction, from knowing someone who had it, to fearing you might contract it.  It is easy to connect with the characters even if you have never experienced what they are going through.  

The pop culture references were a bit much, and even as someone who was alive during the late 80s/early 90s, I still had a hard time recognizing a lot of them.  I also found a few of Ben’s scenes while he’s at his new job to drag on.  Though it made sense for them to be written in lots of detail, it made the book a chore to get through, and I found myself skipping ahead during those parts.  That being said, anyone can enjoy this book. I have seen it compared to the likes of Adam Silvera, and that is a fair comparison—the New York setting and the heartbreak that comes with being in a relationship are all on parr with Silvera, so fans of him should definitely give this book a chance.
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This story is about so many things that it’s almost difficult to review - but in a good way. This book is about so much more than just the AIDs epidemic in 1990 in NYC.

It’s about:
• Finding yourself and your community
• Learning how to accept yourself and situations that weren’t in your plans
• Finding family when your own isn’t enough
• Coming out and learning how to take up space
• Coming to terms with grief, love, loss, and everything in between
• Pop culture including fashion, art, film, and music of the 80s/90s

Honestly, this book was a difficult read. I felt really sad and hollowed out to the point that I needed to step away from the book sometimes. It’s just that the characters are all so endearing and lovely. I was really rooting for them and I felt like I was going through their pain with them.

The book follows two different teens and their experiences. Adam is a 17-year-old film addict who gets asked out by a customer, Callum, while on the clock at the video store where he works. The two experience a sweet and cute whirlwind romance and just as Adam realizes he’s experiencing the first real love of his life, he finds out that Callum has AIDs.

Our other main character, Ben, is an 18-year-old fashion fiend who has just been kicked out of his mother’s house after she finds his stash of gay magazines. He comes to NYC to stay with his brother and finds a job as a fashion photographer’s assistant. While in the city, Ben begins to come into his own when he discovers the East Village where there are many queer people. 

The teens’ storylines intersect when Adam and Ben meet by happenchance and they begin blossoming in all new ways.

Overall, this was a really heartfelt and emotional read filled with both sorrow and hope. It really captures the place and time that it’s going after. I did feel like some of the pop culture references were laid on a bit thick and it seemed unnatural at times. The pacing was also challenged in some parts of the story where things seemed to drag for a while before picking back up. Still a great read and highly recommended! My rating is a 4.5/5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a story about coming of age, love, and friendship.  It is 1990, and Adam is about to graduate from high school and head to college at NYU.  A film buff, he spends much of his time working in a video store.  There, he meets cute and charming Callum, who asks him out on his first date.  Adam accepts and quickly falls for Callum, just like a movie romance.  

Ben, also a high school senior, has just left his home in upstate New York after his mother discovers his secret stash of gay magazines.  He moves to New York to live with his older brother.  After his brother's girlfriend, a fashion photographer, learns that Ben is fashion obsessed, she invites him to work as her assistant on a series of photo shoots.  Ben is thrilled to be able to pursue his interest and be able to live more openly than he could in his home and hometown.

Then, things begin to turn for both Ben and Adam.  Ben learns that even New York City is not as open as he thought.  And Adam is crestfallen when Callum disappears -- and possibly even more upset when he finally locates Callum at the hospital and realizes that Callum is very ill.  When Ben and Adam meet near that hospital, it seems like any other chance encounter but, as they continue to cross paths again and again, they slowly realize there is much more to their relationship.

This was a terrific book.  It captures the joys and sorrows of a particular and important moment of time -- New York City at the very beginning of the 1990s, as the HIV/AIDS epidemic is at its height.  Through Adam, Callum, and Ben, and those in their lives, the author deftly shows the highs and lows for gay teens coming of age in this era.  The stories of Adam and Callum's relationship, Adam and Ben's budding friendship, and Adam and Ben's effort to find their place among their birth families and found families are alternatively heartwarming and heartbreaking.  The book, on the one hand, feels like a much different time and, on the other, has deep resonance for our current moment.  Do not expect to emerge from this book with dry eyes.

Strongly recommended!
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Really beautiful. For an audience born after worst years of the AIDs epidemic in the United States, the scale and scope of the tragedy—which is still ongoing for many communities—is hard to comprehend. I thought this YA story handled it in a really accessible way for that audience.
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Has a great concept, but it’s really oddly structured and paced. I typically like dual POV narratives, but the switching every few pages got on my nerves.
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This is a powerful and moving story.  Adam, in his last year of high school in 1990 New York City and a movie aficionado, meets Callum at the video store where he works, and the two quickly fall for each other.  They see each other every week, until one week that Callum disappears.  Adam finally finds Callum at a hospital, where it becomes clear that he is very ill.  Bereft, Adam has a chance meeting with Ben outside of the hospital.  Ben has fled his hometown to make a life for himself in New York City.  As Adam and Ben make their way through this critical time in their lives, navigating first love, the opportunity to live openly, family support and hostility, illness, and discrimination, they face a future full of uncertainties -- not least of all the role they will play in each other's lives.

This book is a touching set of stories about coming of age in a specific moment of time, exploring first love, friendship, loss, and hope.  Highly recommended!
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Wow. Just wow. It has been so long since a book has moved me as much as this one did. I picked this up because it covers a topic in history that I feel isn’t discussed as much as it should be, and I am so thankful that I did. Truly, this book is beautiful. I connected to the characters deeply and quickly because they all feel human. Even the side characters feel like real breathing humans, not just words on a page. Everyone should read this book. It is the most beautiful thing I have read in years, and I would be honored to have it in my library.
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"When You Call my Name" is a YA book about two eighteen year old boys experiencing what it means to be a gay man in New York during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1990. The story alternates between Adam and Ben’s perspectives and shares the differences in their experiences until, slowly, their stories begin to intertwine. 
	Adam’s perspective deals more with falling in love, familial support, found family in the LGBT community, and the direct effects of loving and losing someone who has HIV/AIDS. The emotional intensity in Adam’s point of view is heartbreaking and beautifully written. 
	Ben’s perspective deals more with the harassment, disapproval, and abuse he receives as a gay man and standing strong through all the bullsh*t that people throw at him. "Ben's sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor" is spot on, and I loved reading Ben's perspective so much because of it.
	Adam’s love of film and Ben’s love of fashion styling are woven throughout their stories and ultimately lead them to the people that will change their lives forever. Including each other. 
	“When You Call my Name” flowed so well and the alternating perspectives balanced each other throughout every important moment. I loved this book so much. It never felt too slow or too rushed, each narrator had a distinct personality and their voices were easily distinguishable, the story itself had the perfect balance of feel-good moments and heartache. I loved the glimpses of each other that Ben and Adam got until their lives fully collided and they really became friends.
	Painful, beautiful, heartfelt. I cried probably half a dozen times reading “When You Call my Name”, and any book with the power to make me cry deserves all the praise in the world. I don’t have enough good things to say about this book, but I highly recommend it. 
	I don’t know if Shaw has any intention of writing a sequel about Adam and Ben’s friendship, but I’d read it in a heartbeat.
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What an...incredibly powerful novel. I knew going in that this would be heartbreaking, but it was also beautiful and explorative and sweet. I don't really have the right words to put how I feel into this review, but you definitely need to read it, especially if you're unfamiliar with this epidemic.
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