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Freaks and Revelations Hardcover – November 4, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (November 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316049964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316049962
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,523,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hurwin tackles the ugliness of hate in a story, told in alternating voices and based on true events, about two boys with more in common than they know at first. Jason, 13, works the streets in San Francisco after his religious mother refuses to accept his coming out. Then he moves to L.A., where Doug, 17, is barely speaking to his parents and is immersed in the punk scene. The narrative counts down to a night in 1980 in which a gay-bashing attack occurred, and the alternating chapters eventually give way to alternating paragraphs as the tension mounts. The dialogue and portrayals of street life are authentic and grim; Adam Rapp fans won’t blink an eye. Hurwin frankly discusses sex, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, homosexuality, white supremacy, and other issues without being gratuitous or graphic. The years following the attack and a chance reconciliation (the story is based on the lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal) are less detailed than the early years, but their incorporation brings a more hopeful ending than that of famous victim Matthew Shephard. Grades 10-12. --Cindy Dobrez

About the Author

Davida Wills Hurwin is the author of A Time for Dancing (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults) and The Farther You Run. She teaches theater at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences and lives in Southern California with her husband and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

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This is a well written, excellent and important story.
Darcy Wishard
Trauma adds a layer of misdirection and encapsulation that is impossible to breach without the tools of fiction.
David Petry
What they went through was very sad, and I felt that just reading their story brought them close to me.
Bombarded With Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Petry on December 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One crisp Thursday evening in Los Angeles in 1980, a young gay male, living on the streets as a prostitute, is beaten nearly to death by a gang of Neo-Nazi skinhead punks. At a decisive moment during the fray, the leader of the punks and the young victim lock eyes. Twenty-five years later, that moment uncoils across a table at a coffee shop when both men, now employees of the Museum of Tolerance, meet to discuss a class they are to teach and they recognize each other.

The true story of these events flickered briefly across the media during 2005. The story rose and then died like all media tales as a surprising outcome to what the world saw as yet another act of violence among the blind and the frightened.

Novelist and drama instructor Davida Wills Hurwin saw the incident as a moment in human experience that stands out clear and pure as a silver bell; one that needed to be rung again and more loudly. She met with Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal and told their stories. The result is Freaks and Revelations.

Freaks and Revelations retells the story in fiction, starting 15 years before the 1980 event. Told separately from the point of view of the two young men, the tales flows from the first pages like two rivers rushing towards a confluence, each event in these young men's lives descending through rapids that carry them decisively into each other's paths. The tales descend not just as random flotsam on some bigger flow, but as young men who build lives and communities and world views that shape their course and their ideas and create their experiences.

The choice to tell their stories in fiction was a result in part of the creative process Hurwin went through to develop this book. But in greater part it was a result of two things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Chilton on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is based on a very moving, powerful, true story. I had the pleasure of meeting the real-life men who lived this story when I attended their talk at the Museum of Tolerance. If you're ever in the area, they speak the first Sunday of each month. After the book came out I could hardly put it down, and I later had the added pleasure of meeting the author. This will absolutely make an impact on the life of anyone who reads it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bombarded With Books on January 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book last night and I am still realing. I usally am kept up thinking about books that are really creative, books that shine a whole new light on an idea. This book kept me up for other reasons.

First, the characters. Both of the main characters are based on two real people! How can you not feel every one of their emotions when these people really had to go through this? I couldn't stay mad about anything that either one of them did, or be angry about the choices they made because I saw their past. I couldn't help but fall in love with both of the boys. What they went through was very sad, and I felt that just reading their story brought them close to me.

The story itself had me turning away at times because I had to take a minute to gather my thoughts and push through what just happened. In the beginning of the book we get to look at the past experiences of the boys from when they were younger. In the younger years lay the ground work of the reasons they made some of those bad choices later on. I couldn't help but identify with some of the family relationships, and my heart break with some of the others.

I can't think of one fault with this book. It kept me hooked the whole way through. The ending gave me closure. The whole book is filled with so much hate it was nice to know that some people can learn to get past the hate and try to forgive and love.

This book was hands down one of the best real life stories that I've read. If you want a book that will make you reach deep into yourself and realize what hate can do, then you need to check out this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darcy Wishard on December 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wow, this is one of those books that you want to tell all your friends about. You want everyone to read it because it is so moving and truthful and truly enlightening. I am going to MAKE my own kids read this book.

Hurwin does one of the best jobs I've ever seen in character development. Characters you should hate, who seem to have no redeeming qualities at all are still sympathetic because you can see the whole picture, you can see why this person is the way they are.

This is a well written, excellent and important story. I also appreciate that the author balances the good with the bad. It's not a book that is so heavy and down trodden that it will be emotionally exhausting to get through. Hurwin portrays the horror of bigotry and hate but leaves you with the knowledge that people are capable of change.

As a librarian I have to say this book is best suited for high school and above but I'm going to let my fourteen-year-old daughter read it because I think she should.
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By Stacy on January 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was a quick read. The characters were easy to relate with as a reader. The topic is intense. I would have liked a bit more. I wanted more details about the time period and more information on the supporting characters.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sometimes you stumble across a diamond in the rough and you just aren't sure what to do with it. With that in mind, I will pass on Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin to you and wish you the best of luck. It will leave you raw and with a knotted stomach, but it is certainly hard to forget.

Freaks and Revelations is based on a true story of two men on opposite sides of a hate crime. Jason is a 13 year old young man who comes from a family that is anything but desirable. His parents have separated, and he is forced to live with his mother who feels strict religion is the solution to every problem. Unfortunately for Jason, he feels the damage to his family is a direct result of their secrets that torment them all and decides to share his biggest secret. When he announces to the family, including his estranged father, that he is in fact gay, his father walks out and his mother tells him to find another place to live.

Doug comes from an equally horrible household, but handles the situation differently. His father is abusive and Doug finds himself escaping through hardcore punk music and culture. Soon he begins going to clubs and meets another group of people who share the same beliefs that minorities- all minorities- are beneath them. Eventually, they even begin "bashing" on a small scale- mostly scaring people and threatening anyone they deem unworthy.

Jason is living on the street, hustling money and turning tricks. Doug is sinking deeper and deeper into a life of intolerance and violence. A night of tension and uncontrollable rage lead Doug to attack Jason, who he thinks is just "gay trash"- not someone worth consideration, let alone human decency. Years later, however, a chance encounter will change both their lives.
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