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James Brandon Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Ziggy, Stardust and Me (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

James Brandon is an American author of historical fiction/LGBT/ young adult books best known for his novel Ziggy, Stardust and Me. Besides writing, James is an actor, producer, and LGBT community activist, the cofounder of I, AM Love Campaign. After a ten-year adventure traveling around the world, he co-wrote, directed and produced a feature film documenting his journey.

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me

The 70s was a period welcomed by the Mansion murder trials and ended with the decline of disco fever. However, in between, there were some important political and social markers- Watergate, Vietnam, the surge of second wave of feminism, the uprising at Wounded Knee and so much. It was a turbulent decade which was dictated by generational discord, social flux, the hippie movement, flower power, and Brandon vividly captures the era as the setting for Jonathan Collin’s tale. In his story, James Brandon offers those who experienced it firsthand a chance to reflect on the good, bad and the ugly part of it, while at the same time giving the younger adult readers a clear picture of the era without it coming across as a history lesson. James’s ability to finesse all these details and make his story accessible, from the music to the slang- music plays a crucial role- cannot be underrated in its relevance to and influence on the characters and their journey.

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me is set in 1973 when the Watergate hearings were in full swing, and Vietnam was in full force, and homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. Amid all these turbulence is a 16-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied asthmatic kid, who aside from his sympathetic neighbor and alcoholic father is entirely alone. To cope with all his troubles, Jonathan flees to the haven of his imagination, where David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust together with his dead relatives help him through the ups and downs of his life. In his alternate reality, he can be anything, an astronaut, a superhero, he can be Ziggy Stardust himself, or be just a “normal” kid and not a boy who loves boys. When his treatments are complete, he will be normal, but before that can happen, Web comes into his life. Web is the perfect boy that Jonathan wants, he is fearless, and most importantly he’s not afraid of being gay.

However, Jonathan doesn’t want to be like brooding Web who has secrets of his own. He wants to be fixed once and for all, and despite this, he finds himself drawn to Web anyway. Web is the only individual in the real world to see Jonathan as a perfect man while he is the ideal man Jonathan has never met. And for the first time in his life, Jonathan is finally free to love himself and accept who he is.

The author parses out the details of Jonathan’s back-story but just as important as the events that came to share him is his present- from the bullying; he endures to his non-relationship with his father, to his varied inscape and the psychiatric medication and treatments he goes through trying to fix himself. This is what makes the timing of the story relevant as homosexuality at the time was considered a mental disorder, even though attitudes were still evolving and it was chilling to witness Jonathan’s ambition to be a normal kid like any other child even if it meant having to go through electroshock to treat his “disorder.” Jonny is a vibrant natural narrator fully detailed in his storytelling, and his life becomes active when he meets Web.

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me is James Brandon’s first novel, and it’s a perfect entry that will leave you wanting more from the author. There are so many different reasons why you should read this book from the character, their story, their journey to healing, the setting and the author’s voice which is quite expressive and easy to comprehend. The fact that the author doesn’t forget that he’s writing from teenager’s point of view is the key. The author not only respects his audience but does so with so much attention in respect to the period the story takes place, and this makes the story come out together superbly.

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