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The Edge of Being

The Edge of Being

by James Brandon

A tender and heartfelt queer YA novel about the multiplicities of grief, deeply held family secrets, and finding new love.

Isaac Griffin has always felt something was missing from his life. And for good reason: he's never met his dad. He'd started to believe he'd never belong in this world, that the scattered missing pieces of his life would never come together, when he discovers a box hidden deep in the attic with his father's name on it.

When the first clue points him to San Francisco, he sets off with his boyfriend to find the answers, and the person he’s been waiting his whole life for. But when his vintage station wagon breaks down (and possibly his relationship too) they are forced to rely on an unusual girl who goes by Max—and has her own familial pain—to take them the rest of the way.
As his family history is revealed, Isaac finds himself drawing closer to Max. Using notes his dad had written decades ago, the two of them retrace his father’s steps during the weeks leading up to the Compton's Cafeteria Riot in San Francisco, a precursor to the Stonewall Riots a few years later. Only to discover, as he learns about the past that perhaps the missing pieces of his life weren't ever missing at all.

Praise for The Edge of Being:

★ “This luminous novel is at once heartbreaking and joyful in its exploration of identity, love, friendship, and family. Brandon's writing is full of vivid imagery as broad as the universe and as personal as a kiss. In a time when self-discovery and self-acceptance are threatened—just as in the 1960s of Alex's youth—a bold and sensitive novel such as this one is sorely needed.” —Booklist, starred review

“Share[s an] undeniably pivotal and important piece of history.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[In] this thoughtful and gentle exploration of grief, loss, and family ties . . . Brandon’s character development is exceptional—everyone is a complicated mix of damaged, loved, and resilient in varying measures. An ambitious amount of West Coast gay history (Compton’s Cafeteria riot, for example) is woven in with overall success . . . Isaac is a deeply likable protagonist who actually gets the answers he has longed for, even if they aren’t to the questions he thought he was asking all along.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“In this compassionate novel . . . Brandon employs a rapid pace and demonstrates a deft understanding of the time period, making for a heartfelt road-trip romp that presents a strong message about fighting for what one believes in.” —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Ziggy, Stardust and Me:
A Summer 2019 Entertainment Weekly Best Book
A Summer 2019 Refinery29 Best Book
A Summer 2019 Seventeen Magazine Best YA Book
A 2019 Book Riot Must-Read Book

A stunning debut. This beautifully written novel made me sob and reminded me of first love in a way no other book has in many years. Read it. Now.” —Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of The Music of What Happens
“This heartfelt book will leave you in a puddle of your emotions.” —BuzzFeed

“A love letter to both self-acceptance and David Bowie, James Brandon’s Ziggy, Stardust and Me is both charming and timely.” —Culturess

“A historical novel set in the early ’70s, a time full of turmoil and homophobia, sets the scene for one of the best YA books of the year.” —Paste Magazine

“A beautifully written, nostalgic story full of universal truths and timeless angst. Charming, poignant, tender and at times heartbreaking.” —Greg Howard, author of Social Intercourse

A well-crafted coming-of-age story that allows the reader to empathize with and root for a young man who feels lost. . .[as he] fights through the difficulties of growing up in a world that judges difference as wrong, and how he becomes stronger because of it.” —School Library Connection

“A love letter to self-acceptance, even when the world is far from accepting . . . this deeply impactful book presents historical attitudes and policies with a chilling accuracy.” —Publishers Weekly

“This book is honest, blunt, heart-wrenching, and incredibly important. The writing style is very unique . . . [and] possesses the unique power to put the reader in its main character’s shoes, to render the reader as vulnerable as Jonathan feels and takes the reader through the horrors he faces.” —The Nerd Daily

“Gut-wrenching emotion, stream of consciousness, and an intensely evoked soundtrack bring Jonathan’s summer to Technicolor life. Historical events like Watergate, the Vietnam War, and Wounded Knee are included seamlessly into the story. Every character from Jonathan himself down to the ice cream man are fully realized. . . Give this one to budding activists, music fans, historical fiction readers, and romantics.” —School Library Journal

“Brandon has penned a novel that seamlessly melds a coming of age tale with the oppressive beliefs and actions of the time. The characters are real and complex, and their feelings honestly portrayed.” —The Advocate

Readers will be immersed in Jonathan's close first-person narration...Debut author Brandon deftly incorporates historical events and realities, including the criminalization of homosexuality, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the occupation of Wounded Knee, and police brutality against Native people...A poignant depiction of a boy's journey to accepting his gay identity despite the odds.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This novel will appeal to introspective readers interested in cultural history, challenging relationships, and hopeful endings.” —VOYA

“If you’re looking for a dose of historical queer romance, James Brandon’s debut Ziggy, Stardust and Me will hit your sweet spots.” —B&N Teen Blog

“In this powerfully character-driven story, we meet two teenage boys from very different cultures. Debut author James Brandon brilliantly rises to the dual challenges of weaving a compelling love story into the backdrop of history while navigating the tempestuous waters of cultural interpretation . . . Ziggy gives us suspense, heartache, hope, and a deep sense of belonging. . . . Will inspire readers of any age.” —Lambda Literary

  • Pages: 304 Pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Imprint: Nancy Paulsen Books
  • ISBN: 9780525517672
Penguin Teen