Before we disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson

Name: Madeline

Grade: 11th

Title: Before We Disappear

Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

Published in: 2021

Pages: 492

Rating: 5 stars

Before We Disappear is a gay romance novel set during the 1909 World Fair in Seattle. It is a fascinating story of two teenage boys, magician’s assistants, who struggle to find their identities and individuality beyond their relationships with the magicians who have controlled their lives since they were young. The historical setting of the World Fair adds extra mystery and adventure to their experience as they realize the enormity of the world, the joy of freedom and love, and the value of friendship. 

If you like romance, you will certainly enjoy this book as the two protagonists try to understand the tangled feelings they feel for each other and the complications their love throws into their lives. Even if you don’t like stories just for romance, there is plenty more to the plot as the characters wrestle with their hopes and dreams and messy relationships; one of the boys is threatened and held hostage, adding an extra layer of risk and suspense to the book.

I liked the author’s style of switching perspectives between the two protagonists in every chapter, so the reader understands almost the full picture from a first-person perspective. Although it took place a century ago, the characters are still very relatable. I also found it fascinating that the writer took the liberty to write about an openly queer relationship in a time period when it wouldn’t have been accepted. I did not find this intentional anachronism to be jolting; rather, it is an intriguing image of what could have been in a more accepting world.

I recommend this book as an entertaining pleasure reading. It will draw you to root for the characters as they try to discover who they are and who they can be.

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