Johnny has had a pretty rough life by many standards. His mom became present in body but nothing else when his dad was killed in a freak automobile accident. He quickly became caretaker of both his mom and himself for several years. As a coping mechanism he turned to alcohol and drugs. After a near overdose, mom-now a born again Christian is convinced that his goth style represents all the bad influences in his life and sends him off to live with his uncle. Furious, Johnny throws himself into this new life he never wanted and just maybe finds the anchors he needs in life; family, a girlfriend and possibly the alter-ego of Debbie Harry.
What makes this book interesting is how character-driven it is in a world of plot driven teen fiction. Johnny deals with a lot and along the way discovers that he enjoys and is empowered by dressing up as Debbie Harry. Does this make him gay? Trans? None of the above? The pace is quick and many issues in Johnny’s life are glossed over and the support he receives from friends and family (and rejections) are sometimes a stretch. However, teens looking for a book that captures the process of finding your personal strength when you march to a different drummer is spot-on. 2008, 234 pages.