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The Crack Magazine

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Some Strange Music Draws Me In by Griffin Hansbury

1984. Reagan’s America. During a long hot summer 13-year-old Mel spends most of her time mooching around Swaffham, a small town in Massachusetts, with best friend Jules. They experiment with alcohol and weed, and share whatever second-hand knowledge they can glean about the mysteries of the sexual act. While hanging around the drugstore one day, flicking through the latest Tiger Beat magazine, Mel encounters Sylvia: “In a world of outdated Farrah Fawcett flips, lumpy corduroys, and Dr. Scholl’s, she looked like Joan Jett.” The pharmacist serves Sylvia, muttering “Freak” as she walks out. It soon transpires that Sylvia is a trans woman, but despite Jules’ dismissal of her, Mel is attracted to something about her, the possibilities she opens up within her. The narrative then jumps to 2019 and Mel is now Max, a trans man. ‘Some Strange Music Draws Me In’ is an incredibly rich and illuminating coming of age story. We spend most of our time with Mel, in 1984, as she manages to track down Sylvia and the pair start a friendship, which puts a strain on Mel’s friendship with Jules. The author – a trans man himself – is brilliant at depicting the shifting sands of relationships, not only friendships, but also how families up rub against each other too. And, at a time when regressive forces are pushing back against hard won rights, he, through this deeply humane, warm and funny novel, makes the case for tipping over apple-carts. As Max says: “When you come from a rough place, queerness can set you free. It’s the regular kids who stay stuck.” RM

Published by DB Originals