Brave Face: A Memoir
Brave Face: A Memoir
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Annotation: Sean David Hutchinson opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens and his path back from the experience.
Genre: [Biographies]
Catalog Number: #210375
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 356 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-43152-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-00175-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-43152-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-00175-6
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018044085
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
A '90s era teen-cum-YA novelist presents a frank, good-humored recollection of depression, self-loathing, and eventual self-respect.For the fainthearted, a disclaimer gives fair warning that this trip is pregnant with discomfort and mounds of bad behavior. Make it past that fence post and there's an amalgam of emails, journal entries, and early writing peppered throughout a contemporary memoir. These time-capsule bread crumbs of Hutchinson's (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, 2019, etc.) younger voice layer even more honesty than might otherwise be there; though it's autobiographical, he's acutely aware that he's writing what he remembers. As a teen he grapples with his sexuality, unable to understand why his heterosexual make-outs skew repulsive instead of gratifying. When Hutchinson's own writing helps him realize that he's gay, it's not a smooth shift to self-love; rather, the realization helps him articulate why he hates himself. Being gay instills a fear of rejection because he doesn't yet have the faculty to realize that homosexuality is more than subscribing to a flamboyant Hollywood stereotype doomed to be treated with disgust or ridicule. In recognizing he's gay, he's now tasked with re-establishing a future that had been previously forecast on a disingenuous heterosexual foundation. His depression's always-there voice of suicide says he'll never have what he wants, coloring his days difficult. There's a lot to endure and survive and screw up before he finds there's a niche for anyone in the queer community.Compelling. (Memoir. 14-adult)
Publishers Weekly
YA author Hutchinson (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried) explores the travails of coming into his sexuality in the early 1990s, when homophobia was deeply rampant in the U.S., the AIDS crisis was in devastating full force, and equal rights for anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum were still a distant dream. With the lack of positive representation of queerness, Hutchinson-s views of gay people were so negative that it took him years to recognize his own sexuality. In the meantime, trying to live an inauthentic life left him angry and depressed for reasons he couldn-t grasp. The author explores his teenage years with raw honesty, presenting the truth as he saw it and sharing passages from his diaries to illustrate the turmoil he experienced-which many queer teens will continue to empathize with. Though he describes himself at times in deep depression and engaging in self harm, the memoir ends on a positive note, sharing the ways in which he finds acceptance both within himself and within the queer community, and sending an important message to other queer teens: your life is a gift, and support is out there. Ages 14-up. Agent: Katie Shea Boutillier, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (May)

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-- In Hutchinson's raw and moving memoir, readers are transported to his life at age 19. Depressed and gayrelated, though not interdependent parts of his lifethe author considered suicide but ultimately chose to live. This is the story of both the large and small experiences that led him to that point and what he used to help him move forward. This story about fitting in and standing out isn't afraid to show Hutchinson's imperfections and doesn't cast a dishonest optimism about how everything will eventually get better. Instead, a crucial takeaway in this memoir is that being okay is just that: being okay. VERDICT A must-purchase for libraries, as this book will resonate with teen readers who live with depression or other mental illnesses, as well as teens who identify as LGBTQ+. Readers familiar with Hutchinson's fiction will see many themes from his novels inspired by his lived experience. -Kelly Jensen, Book Riot, Woodstock, IL
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Hutchinson (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, 2019) lays bare his high-school and early college years s coming out, the resulting family tension, friendship difficulties, depression, self-harm, failed relationships, a suicide attempt this razor-sharp, deeply revealing, and brutally honest exploration of growing up gay in the South amid an intolerant sociopolitical backdrop that seems hell bent on denying him a future. Emotionally raw and deeply insightful, Hutchinson's reminiscence of his earlier years is not tainted by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, nor is his story so macabre as to avoid heartwarming moments and frequent instances of humor to break up the tension: "I was right! Kissing really was like an H. P. Lovecraft story, but with less xenophobia and racism." Although this is a straightforward coming-out narrative in some ways, the depth and complexity of each recounted moment serve to illustrate to readers the myriad ways in which society creates paradoxical and near-impossible expectations for queer young people to adhere to on a daily basis. Brave Face serves not just as a personal story but as a guide to help queer and questioning readers survive tter yet, to thrive ainst all odds, in defiance of a world that so often appears to want them to fade away.
Word Count: 82,137
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 6.0 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 511733 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: 890L
Brave Face



I'LL KEEP THIS SHORT. A lot happens in this memoir. There's drug use, sex in the backseat of a Mustang, discussion of homosexuality, alcohol use, a smidge of profanity, and a little petty theft. Those, of course, aren't worthy of a content warning. Those are just the hundred million pieces that make up a life, and I'm not ashamed of them. But I'm also going to talk about depression, about cutting and burning myself, and about my attempted suicide. I'm not ashamed of those things either, but they might be tough for some of you to read, and I want to make sure you're aware of what's coming.

I'm also going to use words that will probably make you uncomfortable. Words like "faggot" and "fag" and "homo." I know these words hurt to read. They're not pleasant to write, either, but they're part of my story. There were a lot of misconceptions about what being gay meant in the 1990s, and I absorbed them all. Many of my attitudes and beliefs were a result of internalized homophobia and are not beliefs I hold today.

I should also warn you that I was selfish, arrogant, and kind of screwed up when I was younger. I made a lot of mistakes. And while I had my reasons for many of the things I did, they're not excuses. There are no excuses for the ridiculous crap I did when I was younger, and if I could apologize to every single person I hurt, I would. It's fine to hate teenage me a little, but trust me, no one will ever hate that arrogant little prick more than he hated himself.

As you're reading, it's okay to put the book down if it becomes too much or if you need a break. I took lots of breaks while writing. Just remember that no matter how dark it gets along the way, I'm working on this from the light at the other end of the tunnel, and I'll be waiting for you there.

Excerpted from Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

“[P]rofound…a triumph—a full-throated howl to the moon to remind us why we choose to survive and thrive.” —Brendan Kiely, New York Times bestselling author of Tradition

“Razor-sharp, deeply revealing, and brutally honest…emotionally raw and deeply insightful.” —Booklist (starred review)

The critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

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