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Adam Paperback – June 10, 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Schrag switches gears from her autobiographical graphic-novel series, High School Chronicles of Ariel Schrag, and turns to fiction, undertaking a major challenge. She attempts to convey the thoughts, voice, actions, and mind-set of a straight, wealthy 17-year-old California boy determined to meet the love of his life. She succeeds in being on target in tone, but the plot strains credulity. Adam hasn’t even made out with a girl yet, so how does spending the summer with his older lesbian sister in New York City help with his quest? Casey, very much on the gay scene socially and politically, does take him places, and he even meets the redhead of his dreams. But Gillian, an attractive lesbian in her early twenties, beds Adam because she believes his deceitful claim that he is a female-to-male transsexual. To live this lie, he devises various deceptions involving bungee cords (don’t ask). He can’t share his outrageous secret with Casey, or her sometime lover, Butch Casey (again, don’t ask), or apartment mate June, who lusts after Casey. Finally it is Ethan, who also shares the apartment, who becomes Adam’s mentor in Schrag’s unusual, very explicit coming-of-age novel. --Whitney Scott

Review

"The book is sincere, dirty (but not in an excessive way), and downright hilarious. Schrag somehow manages to walk the increasingly thin tightrope of being respectful and yet brutally honest about transgender issues...While this book will surely be on the summer reading list for anybody with a family member or dear friend that fits under the LGBT umbrella, it could and should be enjoyable to anybody who picks it up. After all, its core message is universal. Surviving our teenage years is no small task." --The Daily Beast

"[Ariel Schrag] the lesbian graphic memoirist, a successor to Alison Bechdel, breaks out..." --Boris Kachka,Vulture, "8 Books You Need to Read This June"

"This hilarious, frank look at a young man pretending to be a trans-man in order to get a girl is transgressive and brutally honest—the rare book that pulls no punches for anyone."--Brooklyn Magazine, "25 Best Brooklyn Books of the Decade"

"Colorful and smart, [ADAM] understands that the struggle to discover one’s identity is somehow both ubiquitous and unique. With deep empathy and wit and humanity, Schrag has accomplished the seemingly impossible challenge of making the experience of marginalization and isolation feel universal." --Grantland, "June Book Recommendations: Young Adult for Adults"

"Ariel Schrag is one of the most talented human beings alive...Schrag’s writing is sharp and stylish but also effortlessly graceful; you almost don’t notice how great her sentences are because they flow straight into your brain, situating themselves there like some better, funnier version of your own thoughts." --Emily Gould, The Millions

"Compulsively readable, Adam sometimes seems like a YA novel, only with way more explicit sex. The book is also philosophical, presenting at its core, a question about gender, desire, and subjectivity: is sexual identity defined by who you have sex with, or who you think you’re having sex with….The gimmick at the center of Adam is a good one, and the complicated issues it provokes are profound." -- Bookforum

"While the book is funny, it's also quietly revolutionary—Schrag writes honestly about gender identity and sexuality in a way that's extremely rare, maybe unprecedented." --Gothamist, "Notable New Yorkers Share Their Summer Reading Recs"

"A completely original story, Adam tells a coming-of-age tale that is both modern and timeless, and one that both blurs the boundary between 'young adult' and 'adult' fiction."--Mashable, "24 Must-Read Books for Summer 2014"

"Not only is Adam a wonderful book, it is quite possibly the best entry in the coming-of-age category since Adam Wilson’s Flatscreen...Adam is one glorious buildup to something that you know can’t be a fairytale ending, and Schrag pulls it off in one funny, oddly sweet, and unique novel that nails a plot that just about anybody else would totally butcher." --Flavorwire, "Best Book of the Week"

"Ariel Schrag’s story about a teenager who goes to spend the summer in New York with his sister is unlike any coming-of-age story you’ll read anytime soon. Funny and tender... Anybody familiar with Schrag’s comics won’t be disappointed with her work as a novelist; if you haven’t read her other work, let Adam be your introduction and read everything else you can find of hers from there." -- Flavorwire, "10 Must Read Books for June"

"The story is heartfelt and hilarious, and explores concepts of gender and sexuality that aren’t really explored in other YA books. At least, none that I’ve read in recent memory. Definitely pick this one up. It’ll stick with you. "  --BookRiot, "Best Books We Read in May"

"This book is EVERYTHING. Gorgeously observed, sharp-tongued, big-hearted, fearless. I can’t wait for the HBO series (this is not like a thing Nikki Finke has reported, this is just my Dreamland Hollywood Development Slate). Schrag forever and ever." --Kit Steinkellner, BookRiot, "The Best Books of 2014 So Far"

"Gives an authentic glimpse into N.Y.C’s underground queer culture...A compelling page turner with a suspenseful plot...A quick, easy, and captivating read, 'Adam' pulls you in." --Bust Magazine

"As a novel, Adam is novel. As a character, Adam is alive and well-written. In fact, all the characters are at once clearly and queerly delineated, uttering dialogue that is utterly colloquial. As far as prose goes, it is riveting, riotous, and ridiculously astute. Mendacity and veracity exist side by side, not separated by some great divide, the way gender and sexuality too often are…At its core, this is a story of transformations, celebrations, and revelations; of learning to embrace rather than efface the elasticity of gender and sexuality. Ariel Schrag doesn’t give it to you straight: her book is incisive and divisive, ingenuous and ingenious. It puts the “New” in New York City. So take a big bite of Adam’s Apple." --Curve Magazine

"Completely and totally charmed, and also vicariously embarrassed for the titular character." --The Chicago Tribune, "The Biblioracle: Favorite books of 2014...so far"

"[An] audacious coming-of-age novel...Schrag, best known for her series of graphic memoirs about her adolescence, has found compassionate and funny ways to talk about a subject most fiction avoids, and she has produced a truly original (and sexually explicit) coming-of-age novel...Adam is educational in the best sense of the word: Much of its audience will be as dazed and confused as Adam is in this brave new world, but Schrag sends you home with a greater understanding of all the permutations of what it means to be human." –The Miami Herald

"Graphic artist Ariel Schrag takes on the challenge of the traditional novel with the decidely nontraditional Adam, about a boy trying to pass as transgender to win the lesbian of his dreams (really)."--The Miami Herald, "A-Z of Summer Reading"

"Hilarious...Schrag's riotous, poignant debut novel will leave you reeling." --SF Weekly

"Schrag's frisky debut...is one of the most original coming-of-age stories of recent years." - Publishers Weekly

"Schrag’s gifts for characterization and dialogue make the whole enterprise sweetly entertaining...A well-composed story about love and lust in all their myriad variations and about a boy finding his place in a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world." -- Kirkus

"Ariel Schrag's book is a kind of ‘Adam in Wonderland,’ with its young hero exploring worlds usually kept underground. An insightful, funny, and unexpected love story, told with wit and compassion." —Aimee Mann

"The sexual revolution is finally over, and Ariel Schrag has won. Adam is the most twisted, hilarious, and deeply gratifying reading experience I have had in a long time."  —Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and Are You My Mother?

"Hysterically funny and deliciously precise…Schrag writes as elegantly about sex parties as she does about the complicated emotions of awkwardness." —Nico Muhly, composer of Two Boys

"Sexually frank and frankly hilarious." —Ned Vizzini, author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544142934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544142930
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have absolutely no attention span. In the last year, I have probably started and not-finished about 10 books, with the exception of ADAM, which I furiosuly read over a 24 hour period (and with a newborn, no less). It made me laugh, and cringe, and squeak like a girl, and I could not put it down.

I love Adam, the book and the boy.
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Format: Paperback
In a more normal world, I'd agree that a book where characters can't express the simplest thought without dropping six "f-bombs" and which includes a graphic (and hilarious) jaunt through a sex club is maybe a bit racy for the tykes. However, I'm not sure why, in this troubled world of ours where seven-year-olds are regularly exposed to Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, a book like this can't be marketed as YA.

Fortunately, despite meeting the criteria (except the PG-13 test) for classic YA, Adam is sophisticated, funny, and fascinating enough for all but the crustiest and most out-of-the loop adult readers. Novels should be novel, and as such they fail if their readers sense they've been written before.

I promise you that this book hasn't been written before. It's totally novel and exciting and so much of its (our!) time, while maintaining the timeless elements of a classic coming-of-age story. Adam is hilarious and brave, with its pitch-perfect fun-poking at a group of people who are often ignored, exoticized, derided, or treated with carefully policed phrasing and a stifling sensitivity. Schrag portrays her trans characters, young lesbians, hapless straight-boy hero, and other players as largely driven by their own insecurities and anxiety and desire to be accepted -- in other words, as human beings. Somehow Adam pulls off a balancing of honest but not mean, comic while insightful, transgressive and fun and borderline-offensive while ultimately pretty darn sweet. The plot was engaging and I read the whole thing in basically one sitting because I felt pulled along and simply wanted to know what would happen -- would Adam get the girl? Where was this going?? Could Schrag pull it off!? And how could this possibly end??!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I tried the book after reading a complimentary review, and enjoyed it very much. It made me laugh out loud a number of times, and the humor is suggestive of David Sedaris. I think it's sexual exploration got a little too graphic at times, but the author managed to get into the head of a testosterone driven 17 yr. boy old, admirably.
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Format: Paperback
It's been a while since I've read a book that makes me as emotional and intrigued as ADAM did. I not only learned a lot about a subset of contemporary culture which I have not explored, but I also found myself relating to most of the characters in more ways than one. I definitely recommend reading this book, you won't want to put it down.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ariel Schrag's groundbreaking debut novel "Adam: A Novel" will crawl into your mind and make you realize that everything you know about sexuality and transgender is probably wrong. Ms. Schrag brilliant, surefooted storytelling manages to navigate that fine line between fiction and polemic, making her points through the words and actions of a full cast of characters for which you come to care deeply. This reader marveled at the author's ability to cohesively tell the story through a variety of clearly delineated voices and her skill at drawing you into their world as they work out their desires and relationships, desires and relationships that the majority of readers will probably find outside their daily experience. Yet it never feels forced, always feels authentic.

The spine of the story is seventeen year old Adam who faced with the choice of spending the summer with rustic relatives or as the only single in his group of coupled friends instead convinces his parents to allow him to spend his summer in New York City living with his college-going sister Casey. Adam is ready to be grown up (i.e. get laid) and has internalized society's chosen sexual roles for him. He has a vision of his perfect woman, a red haired beauty that manifests itself in the flesh. However, this idealized woman is more complicated than Adam has been socialized to deal with and their relationship brings him into contact with the kinds of people and situations he never knew existed.

In that sense you could say that Adam: A Novel is a 21st century "Candide." Yet in many ways Ms. Schrag's storytelling reminded me more of Armistead Maupin's "Tales Of The City." I would like to know these characters better and watching their lives as they develop would be fun.

Definitely not for the close-minded but a refreshing take on sexualities and sexual dualities. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sometimes when we're attracted to a person we bend the truth about ourselves a little bit to get them to like us. But no one does it quite like 17-year-old Adam Freedman.

As Adam's junior year of high school ends, he's not quite sure he fits in with friends anymore, because they all have girlfriends and he tends to be a little more on the awkward side. He desperately wants a girlfriend, however, and really wants to lose his virginity (although don't tell anyone he's a virgin). When his friends start pairing off in couples, leaving him the odd man out, Adam decides to spend the summer living with his sister Casey in New York City, where she is a student at Columbia and has fully immersed herself in the LGBT culture, without worrying that their parents will find out.

Adam finds himself drifting aimlessly through the summer, still feeling like a third wheel, and longing to meet the girl his dreams have envisioned—a beautiful redhead—so he can go back to his California high school a completely different person. When he meets Gillian—a redhead, no less—at a rally in support of same-sex marriage. He is instantly smitten, and when they meet again at a party, the two feel a strong connection. There's just one problem—Gillian is a lesbian, and has no desire to date a man. What's a guy to do?

Desperate to build a relationship with Gillian, he pretends to be transgender, one who was born female but has transitioned to male, which explains Adam's youthful appearance. (He's also led her to believe he's 22, the same age she is.) Adam knows that a lie, especially one so serious, isn't a good foundation on which to build a relationship, but he can't stand the thought of being without Gillian.
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