Book Review: I Have Something to Tell You–For Young Adults: A Memoir by Chasten Buttigieg
The young adult adaptation of the hopeful and refreshingly candid bestselling memoir by the husband of a former Democratic presidential candidate about growing up gay in his small Midwestern town. Completely rewritten with new stories, including resources for readers, parents, and teachers.
Growing up, Chasten Glezman Buttigieg didn’t always fit in. He felt different from his father and brothers, who loved to hunt and go camping, and out of place in the rural, conservative small town where he lived. Back then, blending in was more important than feeling seen.
So, when Chasten realized he was gay, he kept that part of himself hidden away for a long, painful time. With incredible bravery, and the support of his loved ones, Chasten eventually came out—and when he did, he learned that being true to himself was the most rewarding journey of all.
Finding acceptance and self-love can seem like a tremendous challenge, but it’s never impossible. With honesty, courage, and warmth, Chasten relays his experience of growing up in America and embracing his identity, while inspiring young people across the country to do the same.
It feels like Chasten Buttigieg is just right here, earnestly telling you these stories about his life, wanting to connect with you, and to remind you that so often he felt out of place, but that there’s nothing better than getting to be your truest self. It’s both the conversational tone and the genuine warmth from Buttigieg that makes the book feel this way.
I flew through it, learning about his life as a child, where he never quite fit in right anywhere, watching him start to discover himself when he spent a year abroad in Germany in high school, feeling joy for him when, after bouncing around a lot, he finally finds his place and his people in theater in college. I don’t mean this in an offensive way at all, but Buttigieg had a very average kind of life. He had a loving family who worked hard to provide for him but didn’t really understand him (and certainly wasn’t sure how to react to having a gay son), he struggled through school (with bullies and slurs and loneliness) like so many kids do, he worked various very normal, basic jobs before landing in the political spotlight. So, I guess by “average” I mean his life is widely relatable. No meteoric rise to success, no extraordinary feats as a youth (though all those bowling awards in his senior picture were impressive), no unimaginable hardship (which is not to say his life was easy or charmed at all, but it was hard in ways that so many experience and can easily understand).
And through it all, he’s just trying to find his place, his people, his self. I know it’s not necessarily helpful for teenagers to hear adults say that it will get better, that things will work out, that high school and adolescence is not forever, because when you are down in it, it seems impossible to imagine better times ahead. But this message, coming from Buttigieg, feels genuine and comforting. He makes sure to point out to readers that though we are still obviously in a place where not all LGBTQIA+ people can feel safe and accepted, we are in a much better place, as he illustrates in his stories about growing up. He reminds readers that change may be slow, but it’s happening (a fact that is increasingly difficult to remember in this regressive age of constant attacks on rights and protections). Buttigieg wants readers to know they are never alone, a fact that he learned over and over as he slowly revealed pieces of his true self to those around him. He shows that you get to write your own story, that you’re not defined by how others see you or by the circumstances of your life. A hopeful and comforting look at a life that finally feels like it fits.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 05/16/2023
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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