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A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father. After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father. After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising a child. Steve throws himself into San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference. In Alysia’s teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she has befriended—fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it’s time to come home; he’s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create. Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father’s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father’s legacy and a daughter’s love. It has been named a Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award Honor Book for 2014.


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A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father. After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising A beautiful, vibrant memoir about growing up motherless in 1970s and ’80s San Francisco with an openly gay father. After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation—few of whom are raising a child. Steve throws himself into San Francisco’s vibrant cultural scene. He takes Alysia to raucous parties, pushes her in front of the microphone at poetry readings, and introduces her to a world of artists, thinkers, and writers. But the pair live like nomads, moving from apartment to apartment, with a revolving cast of roommates and little structure. As a child Alysia views her father as a loving playmate who can transform the ordinary into magic, but as she gets older Alysia wants more than anything to fit in. The world, she learns, is hostile to difference. In Alysia’s teens, Steve’s friends—several of whom she has befriended—fall ill as AIDS starts its rampage through their community. While Alysia is studying in New York and then in France, her father tells her it’s time to come home; he’s sick with AIDS. Alysia must choose whether to take on the responsibility of caring for her father or continue the independent life she has worked so hard to create. Reconstructing their life together from a remarkable cache of her father’s journals, letters, and writings, Alysia Abbott gives us an unforgettable portrait of a tumultuous, historic time in San Francisco as well as an exquisitely moving account of a father’s legacy and a daughter’s love. It has been named a Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award Honor Book for 2014.

30 review for Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews Last year at this time, I was reading lots of sweet romances with holiday themes. This year I was drawn to bleak, sad stories in books, movies and TV. Though I wouldn’t say that Fairyland is bleak, there were some extremely sad moments that triggered old memories and made me tear up. Alysia Abbott had a very difficult childhood. She lost her mom in a car accident when she was two years old and was raised by her father, an openly gay activist and Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews Last year at this time, I was reading lots of sweet romances with holiday themes. This year I was drawn to bleak, sad stories in books, movies and TV. Though I wouldn’t say that Fairyland is bleak, there were some extremely sad moments that triggered old memories and made me tear up. Alysia Abbott had a very difficult childhood. She lost her mom in a car accident when she was two years old and was raised by her father, an openly gay activist and writer. With the current rise in same-sex parenthood and the legalization of same-sex marriage in more than 30 states, I believe that Alysia would face much less social stigma today than she did in the 1970’s and 1980’s. In her later childhood and teen years, when acceptance is so important to young people, Alysia had a hard time fitting in. As a small child I had no problem accepting Dad, in all his beautiful queerness. Whether in pants or a dress, he was still my daddy, the one who stirred my oatmeal with milk and honey, the one who pushed me on swings in the park each time I yelled “Again!,” the one whose lap quaked whenever he laughed his enormous up-and-down laugh. But as I got older and became attuned to the world around me, I craved, more than anything, acceptance. His queerness became my weakness, my Achilles’ heel. Not only might it open me up to possible ridicule and rejection, it was something I could not contain. Fine, I thought, if Dad was gay, he was gay! But did he have to look so gay? And in public? Though her father, Steve, had the opportunity to let Alysia be raised by relatives, he was adamant about raising his child on his own. Steve’s writing and editing work didn’t provide much money and he took odd jobs to provide for his family. He was very committed to his literary ventures and to the promotion of new writers, often at the expense of his own creative work. This dedication meant that Alysia had to fend for herself a lot. As difficult as her childhood was, in some ways I envied her life with a father who was open about his life and sexuality, was proud, political, and exposed his child to poetry readings and introduced her to writers. Other children grow up being babysat by the TV and live with parents who labor at jobs that may provide decent income, but no satisfaction. So, yeah, Steve may not have been such a great parent and I would probably have been dead a long time ago if I had the freedom Alysia did, but I admire his determination to raise his daughter on his own and enjoyed reading Alysia’s account of her father’s life and work, his journals that documented her growing years, and her growth and sacrifice while dealing with her father’s AIDS diagnosis, subsequent complications and death in 1992. I was enraged and sad all over again at the ignorance, stigmatization, and apathetic governmental policies that allowed AIDS to decimate the gay community. Steve Abbott, along with a huge number of writers, artists and other talented individuals were victims. It broke my heart to read of writer Sam D’Allesandro, his denial of his disease and refusal to get medical treatment. Just 31 at the time of his death in 1988, he was one of the first friends the Abbotts lost. Reading Alysia’s story brought me back to the early 80’s and my anxiety about my younger brother, who had already begun frequenting gay clubs that had signs cautioning men about a mysterious “gay cancer”. I also thought of my best friend, Mark, who died of AIDS in 1995 at the age of 36 and I remember hearing of new drugs that came along too late to help him. This is a story about life, loss, grief and the depth of a father’s and daughter’s love. It is a story about the New Narrative movement in San Francisco. It is also a glimpse of history and AIDS politics and a grim reminder that in spite of treatment advances and a change in attitudes, the AIDS crisis is far from over. Alysia’s story is honest, intimate, heartbreaking and frustrating at times. Father-daughter relationships, no matter how loving, are complicated and never easy to navigate. I came across an article by Alysia in the November edition of Out magazine that mentions the people that re-entered her life since she wrote her father’s memoir. It can be read here. As she says, there is enough material to write another book. I hope she does.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (See my recent interview with Alysia at BookTrib.) When Alysia Abbott’s mother died in a car accident, her father Steve took his three-year-old daughter off to San Francisco, where he could be out and proud as a poet and gay activist. In her memoir, Fairyland (recently named a Stonewall Honor Book in Non-Fiction for 2014), Alysia reflects on her unorthodox upbringing, which proved to be both a curse and a lucky escape. An aunt had offered to take Alysia in; if Steve had accepted, “I would have g (See my recent interview with Alysia at BookTrib.) When Alysia Abbott’s mother died in a car accident, her father Steve took his three-year-old daughter off to San Francisco, where he could be out and proud as a poet and gay activist. In her memoir, Fairyland (recently named a Stonewall Honor Book in Non-Fiction for 2014), Alysia reflects on her unorthodox upbringing, which proved to be both a curse and a lucky escape. An aunt had offered to take Alysia in; if Steve had accepted, “I would have grown up in the suburbs with a mother and father, two brothers, and a dog named Pokey.” Instead, she grew up surrounded by drag queens and homosexuals. “It’s a bad kind of life you’re giving Alysia, growing up around queers,” one of Steve’s boyfriends remarked to him. Although she had a constant sense of fitting in neither in the gay nor the straight world, Alysia strangely relished being “the only child among adults and the only girl among men.” In this sensitive memoir, small moments often reveal bigger truths. For example, the true weight of being without a mother is symbolized by wanting to know why she didn’t pee standing up like her father – so he taught her how. Steve Abbott’s own writings (poems, journals, comic strips, and especially his wonderful letters) are a treasure trove for the reader, as are the black-and-white photographs of Alysia and her father. “If he was sometimes a failure as a parent, he was always a noble failure,” Alysia writes. “There were no models. For better and for worse, my father was making up the rules as he went along.” Especially during her teen years, they were both figuring out who they were and testing their freedoms. Alysia developed a strong love for punk/indie music and for 70s/80s sitcoms; she was intrigued by the portrayal of ‘normal’ family life. She attended a bilingual private school and spent a summer and then a year abroad in Paris during her time at NYU. But as Steve grew ill and Alysia had to become his primary caregiver, their roles were reversed. There was something very special about this father-daughter relationship. With her mother gone, they clung to each other even more. “I never liked my self as much as the self I saw reflected in my father’s eyes.” On the one hand was their fiercely private partnership; on the other hand were the wider outworkings of San Francisco’s gay community. It’s all here as background: the Anita Bryant affair, Harvey Milk’s assassination, and the terrifying rise of the AIDS epidemic, which would kill Steve Abbott, too, in 1992. I got the sense that he was almost childlike in his sensitivity – he had an openness to emotion and experience that sometimes left him wounded. “It was as if AIDS had reduced Dad to his essential core, which was gentle and good,” Alysia muses. She gives a tender portrayal of this Fairyland’s loss of innocence: “I believed that this decade might carry us away on the back of a winged horse. But by decade’s end, the fabulous creatures had mostly perished.” This memoir may be painful reading at times, but that makes it no less essential. As Alysia concludes, “This queer history is our queer history,” and we all need to be informed. With thanks to Emily Cary-Elwes at W.W. Norton & Company. I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    Those who hadn't lived through the [AIDS] epidemic would come to know almost nothing about it, as a cultural amnesia set in. The heavy warlike losses of the AIDS years were relegated to queer studies classrooms, taught as gay history and not American history. (Fairyland, p. 315) Ok, you got me there. I'm not very knowledgeable about LGBT history, American or otherwise, I'm afraid. Abbott's memoirs of being raised by her gay widowed father in San Francisco in the 1970s and 80s would have completel Those who hadn't lived through the [AIDS] epidemic would come to know almost nothing about it, as a cultural amnesia set in. The heavy warlike losses of the AIDS years were relegated to queer studies classrooms, taught as gay history and not American history. (Fairyland, p. 315) Ok, you got me there. I'm not very knowledgeable about LGBT history, American or otherwise, I'm afraid. Abbott's memoirs of being raised by her gay widowed father in San Francisco in the 1970s and 80s would have completely escaped my notice were it not for the splendid interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, so I'm glad I caught that. But the memoir, good as it was, wasn't enough--because while reading it I kept thinking of other books I should read. Not in the I-could-be-reading-other-books kind of way that I got while trying Pride and Prejudice or Infinite Jest earlier this year (and have those two ever been mentioned in the same sentence before?), but in the this-is-interesting-but-I-must-read-more kind of way. Mention of Stonewall? Hmm, I should read Stonewall. Mention of Harvey Milk? I should reread The Mayor of Castro Street. AIDS? Well, I've been meaning to read And the Band Played On. And hell, don't I have a bunch of other books on queer history that I keep buying because they look interesting? I should probably read them at some point... So I think I'm going to do that. Any more recommendations?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Felice Picano

    Everyone wonders what children brought up by single gay parents will be like. Look no further. Alysia was brought up from a very early age by her father, poet Steve Abbott, who was never well off, always struggling to be a better poet, and always struggling to make a name for himself as a writer not to mention a living. In so doing, he helped a lot of other writers, and I was lucky enough to meet him a few times and to be involved in a few of his larger group readings. He was a cool guy--well, m Everyone wonders what children brought up by single gay parents will be like. Look no further. Alysia was brought up from a very early age by her father, poet Steve Abbott, who was never well off, always struggling to be a better poet, and always struggling to make a name for himself as a writer not to mention a living. In so doing, he helped a lot of other writers, and I was lucky enough to meet him a few times and to be involved in a few of his larger group readings. He was a cool guy--well, most of the time. To Alysia, he was a father, and that's not always cool, or even very good. And then he had the misfortune of contracting HIV --like 92 percent of the guys I know--and then suffering and dying from its opportunistic infections. All of this Alysia had to put up with growing up. She does not shrink back from anything in this book: her temper tantrums; her wanting to be like all the other normal kids and have a normal family. The book is a smart kid growing up, within an environment that is early to late Haight-Ashbury and almost always gay and so is probably unique. It's well written, an emotional roller coaster ride and well worth reading. So who is this about to be middle aged heterosexual woman, married with kids in Massachusetts. She's my gay sister. Possibly yours too. Bravo Steve. You did good.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. Alysia Abbott definitely has a way with words. The picture she paints of San Francisco in the '70s an 80s is wonderfully vivid and pulls you in with the attention to detail. The story also provides a heart-wrenching, firsthand account of the AIDS epidemic. Abbott portrays well the feeling of helplessness and grief of losing so many friends and loved ones. I went into the book knowing it would make me cry, and it definitely lived up to that expectat I won this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. Alysia Abbott definitely has a way with words. The picture she paints of San Francisco in the '70s an 80s is wonderfully vivid and pulls you in with the attention to detail. The story also provides a heart-wrenching, firsthand account of the AIDS epidemic. Abbott portrays well the feeling of helplessness and grief of losing so many friends and loved ones. I went into the book knowing it would make me cry, and it definitely lived up to that expectation. I was struck too by Abbott's portrayal of herself and her father. She doesn't idealize their lives. Steve Abbott is not a perfect father, nor is Alysia the perfect daughter. Both have trouble reconciling Steve's identity both as a single father and as a gay man. That struggle as they try to navigate and figure out how to relate to each other is the heart of the story. The love they have for each other is very clear, and Alysia's loss of her father hits hard. In short, I highly recommend this book. Even if you're not part of the LGBT community, there is still great value in knowing the history and also in putting faces and names to that history.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This memoir was written in 2013 but this is the best book I’ve read so far in 2021. It was poignant and perfectly paced with the right amount of detail. There was little self indulgence and a very measured approach - not so sad until the end. In short difficult feats to pull off with a memoir. Although the focus is on Abbott’s father, Steve, who was a prominent writer and Gay rights activist, this is also an homage to the area around Haight-Ashbury from a girl’s perspective until 1992 - at the hei This memoir was written in 2013 but this is the best book I’ve read so far in 2021. It was poignant and perfectly paced with the right amount of detail. There was little self indulgence and a very measured approach - not so sad until the end. In short difficult feats to pull off with a memoir. Although the focus is on Abbott’s father, Steve, who was a prominent writer and Gay rights activist, this is also an homage to the area around Haight-Ashbury from a girl’s perspective until 1992 - at the height of the AIDS Crisis. I would consider this read it to be right up there with And The Band Played On and the biography Harvey Milk: The Mayor of Castro Street. 5 stars. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this book after listening to the author on NPR Fresh Air. It was an amazingly candid interview and the book was the same. The setting with a single gay parent was extremely interesting, but in fact the whole book rung true in the whole relationship of parents and kids, and early death in a parent. The fact that her dad had such an amazing set of journals and letters, where he didn't just write about things that happened, but how he felt - the good and the bad, made it an incredible glimps I read this book after listening to the author on NPR Fresh Air. It was an amazingly candid interview and the book was the same. The setting with a single gay parent was extremely interesting, but in fact the whole book rung true in the whole relationship of parents and kids, and early death in a parent. The fact that her dad had such an amazing set of journals and letters, where he didn't just write about things that happened, but how he felt - the good and the bad, made it an incredible glimpse into a real family. I can't imagine growing up with just the two of them and the incredible bond they shared - that would hold on even when it was incredibly stretched. The most memorable line to me was when she said she wasn't ready to take care of him, her father said, "I wasn't ready to care for you when your mother died. But I did." I just kept thinking of my son at 20, and what he does, or what he could be capable of in that situation and as a parent it broke my heart. Having teenagers it was easy to see through the glass. It was incredible to see the selfishness of a child and then the hurt that Alysia had to go through in becoming and adult and understanding it in a different way and being able to confront it and her young self in writing this book. She is an extremely brave person to bring this forward, and search her soul and write it down and celebrate her father and their life together. I would absolutely recommend this book as a true story of the real emotional life of a family.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    What a treat. Alysia Abbott's life with her father, the poet and editor Steven Abbott, in 1980's San Francisco is a real tearjerker. It's also a fascinating look at how a non-traditional family operates. There are plenty of moments when you're shaking your head and thinking "what a horrible father!" but there are just as many when you're thinking "she's a terrible daughter!" Ultimately, what we see is a poignant, touching story of family, warts and all. These people clearly loved each other very What a treat. Alysia Abbott's life with her father, the poet and editor Steven Abbott, in 1980's San Francisco is a real tearjerker. It's also a fascinating look at how a non-traditional family operates. There are plenty of moments when you're shaking your head and thinking "what a horrible father!" but there are just as many when you're thinking "she's a terrible daughter!" Ultimately, what we see is a poignant, touching story of family, warts and all. These people clearly loved each other very much and did the best they could under very challenging circumstances. At the end of the book, Abbott revisits a key idea explored throughout the book. She was raised by a gay father in San Francisco, but she herself is not gay and now lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts. Her life is in many ways the opposite of what it once was (as her father might say "bougie"), and yet she feels very much a part of the queer world. I thought it was a very interesting point on the universality of the queer experience. We all feel some connection to a group of "otherness," in one way or another, and it's probably something that follows us around, informing our existence, throughout our lives, regardless of how much the circumstances of our quotidian life have changed. If you liked this, make sure to follow me on Goodreads for more reviews!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Those who hadn't lived through the [AIDS] epidemic would come to know almost nothing about it, as a cultural amnesia set in. The heavy warlike losses of the AIDS years were relegated to queer studies classrooms, taught as gay history and not American history. (p. 315)* Make no mistake, while the title may state that it's a memoir of the author's father, it's really a memoir of the author's own transformation, though it takes until the epilogue for her to realize that herself. She at last sees her Those who hadn't lived through the [AIDS] epidemic would come to know almost nothing about it, as a cultural amnesia set in. The heavy warlike losses of the AIDS years were relegated to queer studies classrooms, taught as gay history and not American history. (p. 315)* Make no mistake, while the title may state that it's a memoir of the author's father, it's really a memoir of the author's own transformation, though it takes until the epilogue for her to realize that herself. She at last sees herself among the tapestry of queer life, not because she herself is gay but because she was a witness. From being raised by a single gay father in pre-AIDS San Francisco, and then living through the horror of watching neighbors and neighborhoods and her father pass away during the epidemic, she saw it up close. We are richer for her honoring and remembering of her father and their life together. *Admittedly, I read this quotation in another's review, but it stayed in my mind throughout my own reading, and I felt it necessary to quote it here again because it just seems so weirdly and dishearteningly true.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jess Irish

    This is such an engrossing and vivid book. The story of the author's upbringing is beautifully written, sprinkled with gems of insight and the writer's poetic. It is a really compelling window into a world that no longer exists - the larger bohemian, politically engaged cultural scene, though mercifully without the trappings of the baby boomer's POV. Writing itself becomes such an interesting dynamic in the relationship of the author with her writer-father, through journals, letters, notes - and This is such an engrossing and vivid book. The story of the author's upbringing is beautifully written, sprinkled with gems of insight and the writer's poetic. It is a really compelling window into a world that no longer exists - the larger bohemian, politically engaged cultural scene, though mercifully without the trappings of the baby boomer's POV. Writing itself becomes such an interesting dynamic in the relationship of the author with her writer-father, through journals, letters, notes - and finally the book itself. We come to really feel her relationship with father, which is complex but so intimate and ultimately inspiring. It left me thinking a lot about how parenthood is often so sanitized, distanced...as well as the huge loss we have in this missing generation, twenty years out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lorri Steinbacher

    A lovely portrait of a unique father/daughter relationship. Abbott polishes up parts of the memoir, no doubt, but she also leaves enough of the grit so that you see how complicated the relationship really was. I found myself feeling angry at both father and daughter alternately throughout. One the one hand, Abbott's father was selfish (leaving her alone at a young age, treating her as if she were an adult, indiscriminate drug-use), he still sacrificed in order to be her father. He could easily h A lovely portrait of a unique father/daughter relationship. Abbott polishes up parts of the memoir, no doubt, but she also leaves enough of the grit so that you see how complicated the relationship really was. I found myself feeling angry at both father and daughter alternately throughout. One the one hand, Abbott's father was selfish (leaving her alone at a young age, treating her as if she were an adult, indiscriminate drug-use), he still sacrificed in order to be her father. He could easily have sent Alysia off to her grandparents, where she would have ad a rather ordinary, suburban existence. So was it selfish to keep her and love her or was it selfless, because while he didn't change much of his life to accommodate her, he did not live the completely free life he would have with out her? To have made the decision to raise her, in a time when there were no templates, no role models for a single gay father, speaks to his love for her. The personal is political we feminists like to say. What could be more political? More personal? What is better: ordinary or different? Abbott also doesn't spare herself in the memoir. She is honest about her own selfishness and anger, her desire to walk away when her ailing father starts to make demands on her. What child wouldn't be resentful: you left me to raise myself and now you want me to put my life on hold to help you die? Hard choices to make for both Abbotts, which regrets would you prefer to have?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    Having just finished this book, it's hard to give it a true rating because it had such an emotional ending, but I had to remind myself that I spent almost the entire book wanting to put it down & read something else. The beginning is strong & the end is strong, but the meat of the book is long & tedious. I continued on because I feel this is an important story. Fairyland is the memoir of a girl from 4 to 21 being brought up by her gay, widowed father in San Francisco through the "gay plague" of HI Having just finished this book, it's hard to give it a true rating because it had such an emotional ending, but I had to remind myself that I spent almost the entire book wanting to put it down & read something else. The beginning is strong & the end is strong, but the meat of the book is long & tedious. I continued on because I feel this is an important story. Fairyland is the memoir of a girl from 4 to 21 being brought up by her gay, widowed father in San Francisco through the "gay plague" of HIV. Basically this is a story of the emergence of a woman from a childhood, including all the selfishness and conflicts of adolescence, into adulthood. The father daughter relationship was one of confused love with both trying to understand their identity and role in this world. Alysia was labeled as weird by proxy and her father only desired to live unrestrained believing that he was creating an unorthodox but workable home life for his daughter. The book is full of descriptions of San Francisco, its neighborhood and other little details, which only really has value for readers who know this city. I know memoirs are mostly nostalgic and this one relied heavily on her father's copious diaries to describe him however he never really emerges as a character in his own right. I still feel this is an important story however it unfortunately never stole my heart.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    I'd rate this 4.5 stars. Alysia Abbott was two years old when her mother was killed in a car accident. Her parents had a rather unorthodox relationship (it was the early 1970s, after all)—her father was bisexual and dated men while he and her mother were together, while her mother also dated other men, including a suicidal patient she counseled as a psychologist. After her mother's death, Alysia and her father, Steve, moved to San Francisco, where he fully immersed himself in the gay culture of th I'd rate this 4.5 stars. Alysia Abbott was two years old when her mother was killed in a car accident. Her parents had a rather unorthodox relationship (it was the early 1970s, after all)—her father was bisexual and dated men while he and her mother were together, while her mother also dated other men, including a suicidal patient she counseled as a psychologist. After her mother's death, Alysia and her father, Steve, moved to San Francisco, where he fully immersed himself in the gay culture of the city. A poet, writer, and activist, Steve was determined to find his place in the literary world and, most importantly, find a man to share his life with. And while he was committed to ensuring Alysia had a good life and was cared for, as many parents can understand, sometimes his responsibilities as a father didn't necessarily dovetail with his own wants and desires. "If he was sometimes a failure as a parent, he was always a noble failure. He tried to do what he thought was best even if he didn't always know what 'best' was or how to achieve it." Fairyland is a complex and poignant tribute. Using her father's letters, journal entries, and other writings, combined with her own recollections, Alysia Abbott tells the story of an emotional, unshakeable bond, but one which was difficult at times to maintain. As she grew up, Alysia wanted a "normal" life more than anything—even in San Francisco, she knew no other children being raised by a single gay parent. She was forced to hide her father's sexuality from her maternal grandparents, but she chose to hide it from school friends and others, preferring to tell peers that her father was so consumed by grief over her mother's death that he couldn't handle another relationship. More than anything, Alysia resented having to share her father with his literary pursuits and his search for a romantic relationship, and Steve resented Alysia's lack of respect for his needs and her treatment of his potential boyfriends. At times, the burden of fatherhood overwhelmed him. "My father expressed resentment because I asked him to fix me breakfast when, at age four, I was 'perfectly capable of doing it alone.' Maybe Dad couldn't understand my needs because our life was populated by so many needy wanderers like himself, young people escaping bad homes and bad marriages, all searching for their true selves and open to anything that might further that quest." Alysia didn't remember when her father told her he was HIV-positive, but she never truly accepted that diagnosis, which in the 1980s proved to be a death sentence for most people. She never dealt with the idea that one day her father would grow so ill that he'd need her to care for him, that one day he'd die. As Fairyland chronicled the decline of Steve's health and his growing dependency on Alysia, it was truly accurate in the range of emotions that family members go through when their loved one is dying. The book doesn't paint an altogether rosy picture of Alysia and Steve's life together. Alysia is fairly honest in depicting her flaws and how they affected her relationship with her father—she was often selfish, demanding, and resentful of others who tried to become part of Steve's life. It's clear it's taken her many years to come to terms with some of her feelings about her father. At the same time, Steve's journal entries clearly delineate his own struggles with fatherhood and how he sometimes wished he didn't have to care for his daughter himself. I found myself sympathizing with both people at different times throughout the book. I really enjoyed this. It was beautifully written and while it is emotionally moving, it isn't maudlin, which it certainly could have been. It's also evocative in its depiction of how the early days of the AIDS crisis affected the gay community in San Francisco. I feel grateful that Alysia Abbott was willing to share her father and their life with us. "Dad could always make me feel better when the world outside made me feel strange. Dad was the one who loved me best of all."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. At the end Alysia writes: 'I still feel a part of this queer community. This queer history is my queer history. This queer history is our queer history' I loved that bit, because it is all our histories and affects us all. Every time I read something about the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s, or watch something on tv, or when I visited the Aids Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (which is also mentioned in the book), I feel overwhelmed with grief. Grief for the people who suffered At the end Alysia writes: 'I still feel a part of this queer community. This queer history is my queer history. This queer history is our queer history' I loved that bit, because it is all our histories and affects us all. Every time I read something about the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s, or watch something on tv, or when I visited the Aids Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (which is also mentioned in the book), I feel overwhelmed with grief. Grief for the people who suffered - both physically and mentally and also for the way that the media and the public and the government treated them - who died from this terrible disease, and all the people that are left behind and still suffering. I don't have any personal experience with AIDS, but Alysia made me feel that it was ok to be sad about it all, in fact, I should be sad about it! We all should be! It's such recent history (and of course, ongoing) and it's barely talked about. Alysia writes beautifully about her father, growing up in 70s and 80s San Francisco and what it was like having a gay dad and no mother. Their relationship is never glossed over either, and she writes about their failings and mistakes, as well as their lovely, close relationship. So it's an important memoir about AIDS during the 80s and 90s, but it's also just a lovely memoir about growing up, about san francisco and Haight Ashbury, about writing and writers (ginsberg, corso and brautigan all pop up), about gay rights, and about family and friends.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*

    DNF @ pg. 136 I think I've reached the boring middle part all the reviews mention. I'm not motivated to keep going. The writing isn't all that gripping. DNF @ pg. 136 I think I've reached the boring middle part all the reviews mention. I'm not motivated to keep going. The writing isn't all that gripping.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    Beautiful story that made me cry like a baby. Although I never lived in San Francisco and never had the same connection to the gay community, I had some ties and this book rang so so true of the times. I vividly remember hanging out with friends outside their apartment on Milton Street in Cincinnati talking about the mysterious gay cancer that was spreading out of the big cities of San Francisco and New York City. The anger at Ronald Reagan and his refusal to help. The fear. I remember Jamey and B Beautiful story that made me cry like a baby. Although I never lived in San Francisco and never had the same connection to the gay community, I had some ties and this book rang so so true of the times. I vividly remember hanging out with friends outside their apartment on Milton Street in Cincinnati talking about the mysterious gay cancer that was spreading out of the big cities of San Francisco and New York City. The anger at Ronald Reagan and his refusal to help. The fear. I remember Jamey and Bob across the street. Red and white kitchen complete with cans of Campbell's soup on open display. Catching Jamey on TV before work one afternoon on the Sally Jessy Raphael show. Talking about how he had AIDS and his family had turned their backs on him. Before too long he was dead. Bob, too. And others. A coworker of my husband. Dead in his 20s. Newlywed. Hemophiliac. I was told he was one of the innocent victims. I AM STILL ANGRY TODAY ABOUT THAT COMMENT - THAT THERE COULD BE INNOCENT OR GUILTY VICTIMS. I've held this anger for years and years. A coworker getting thinner and thinner. Fun, lovely man. Last time I saw him he looked like a skeleton with thin skin stretched across the bones. More coworkers. Rumors of more deaths in offices in other cities. I remember carving pumpkins one Fall and having our host and good friend tell us that he was HIV positive. It was a horrible night. But he was one of those lucky ones. HIV positive for years and years. Dying much later from melanoma. His partner, one of my best friends, testing negative. No word for a while. But I remember sitting around one night in his family room. I knew before he told us. Karposi Sarcoma. Spots on his legs that I spied. I knew without him saying a word. In 1999, I traveled with him. I remember his suitcase devoted just to the pills. I remember him counting them out in the room we shared. I remember all the experimental drugs. The silence when he told me that he had had enough; no more drug trials for him. It was just a matter of time. And then right before Christmas a scheduled visit postponed as he entered the hospital. The telephone ringing on that Sunday morning. Looking up and knowing exactly who was on the phone and the news that was to be shared. Early 2002, such a cold day for a funeral. I sobbed and sobbed. Everything Alyshia Abbott remembered rings so true. I'm so sorry for her loss; I'm so sorry for yours; I'm sorry for mine.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I really enjoyed this well written memoir by the age 40-something daughter of an openly gay father growing up in the tumultuous 70s and 80s in san francisco. I was born in the same year as the author's father and I have 2 sons about the same age as the author. I also spent my university and graduate school years in california, near san francisco. But if I were to write a memoir of my life, there would be virtually no overlap with the father's life style, parenting or emotions. So this book opene I really enjoyed this well written memoir by the age 40-something daughter of an openly gay father growing up in the tumultuous 70s and 80s in san francisco. I was born in the same year as the author's father and I have 2 sons about the same age as the author. I also spent my university and graduate school years in california, near san francisco. But if I were to write a memoir of my life, there would be virtually no overlap with the father's life style, parenting or emotions. So this book opened my eyes to a slice of life so near and yet so far from what I know. Fascinating. Drugs, bisexuality, homosexuality, self-indulgence, openness with a child beyond anything I could imagine---all this described with poetry and not sensationalism or depression, through the eyes of a beautiful and lonely soul who continued to adore her father despite painful moments, many of them, culminating with her father's death after he summons his 22-year-old daughter back to san francisco to care for him in his final weeks dying of aids. I was left torn open emotionally but inspired by the book which must have been so cathartic to the author in its writing. I must also say that the book's cover is wonderful both before and after you read the memoir--the father and his brave daughter dressed up for a night out in fairyland.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Monica Brown

    Fairyland is an engrossing read. Alysia Abbott relays an unusual story of love between a father and daughter. She was involved in a culture in which there were usually no other children and few other females. She makes unlikely friendships and is even rescued from possible danger by strangers. She paints a vivid picture of her surroundings and captures a moment in time through the thoughtful recount of seemingly mundane details. If you are of Abbott's generation, these details catapult or softly Fairyland is an engrossing read. Alysia Abbott relays an unusual story of love between a father and daughter. She was involved in a culture in which there were usually no other children and few other females. She makes unlikely friendships and is even rescued from possible danger by strangers. She paints a vivid picture of her surroundings and captures a moment in time through the thoughtful recount of seemingly mundane details. If you are of Abbott's generation, these details catapult or softly lull you back in time. Having lost her mother at the age of two and her father before she was 22, her bravery starts young. Abbott describes her younger self being grounded in the weight of her combat boots when all other foundational / familial structure in her life has been lost. Fairyland is also a coming of age story: a precocious teen becomes a young woman who is faced with caring for her dying father. Her honesty is at times both heartwarming and disarming. I ended the book with tears in my heart, and an overwhelming feeling of love.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette

    Writing about the shortcomings of her only parent, her gay activist, writer, poet father who struggled to make a living in 70s and 80s San Francisco. Alysia also writes about her own failures as a daughter, especially when her father is dying of AIDS. Her father left plenty of journals and letters so it's clear that while he was mired in his own struggles to find a partner, fight his addictions and establish himself as a writer, he also loved his daughter even when he became frustrated that his Writing about the shortcomings of her only parent, her gay activist, writer, poet father who struggled to make a living in 70s and 80s San Francisco. Alysia also writes about her own failures as a daughter, especially when her father is dying of AIDS. Her father left plenty of journals and letters so it's clear that while he was mired in his own struggles to find a partner, fight his addictions and establish himself as a writer, he also loved his daughter even when he became frustrated that his 4 year old couldn't make her own breakfast. Alysia's failure was that she was absent & callous as her father was dying, like her dad with AIDS just became one huge bummer for her early 20s life. While I appreciated her honesty in this memoir, the book takes way too long to get interesting. It's an interesting story and an interesting life, but she relies too much on her father's own writing to place much of her own inside. It's a low 3 stars from me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This is a touching memoir about the relationship between Alysia Abbot and her gay, poet father, Steve Abbot. It is frank, thoughtful, and compassionate. In many ways the memoir is framed by the death of her mother, when she was toddler, and the death of her father, when she was in her 20's. She talks with sad honesty about growing up an outsider, both from the mainstream world, which is inhabited through school and in her father's San Francisco literary circles, where children were rare. Unsurpr This is a touching memoir about the relationship between Alysia Abbot and her gay, poet father, Steve Abbot. It is frank, thoughtful, and compassionate. In many ways the memoir is framed by the death of her mother, when she was toddler, and the death of her father, when she was in her 20's. She talks with sad honesty about growing up an outsider, both from the mainstream world, which is inhabited through school and in her father's San Francisco literary circles, where children were rare. Unsurprisingly, some of her story resonated with me personally, especially her observations of being both part of and not part of the gay community. Aside from that, the book nicely chronicles movement in the SF literary world, a relationship between a father and daughter who are both trying to find their place in the world, and the impact the aids crisis had on a vibrant community. It's a good read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Richardson

    Fairyland is a compelling memoir about a little girl growing up in San Francisco in the 70’s with a single dad Steve Abbott, who was an active gay poet living in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. I loved this book! The author has such an easy style of writing that completely allows the reader to be in sync with the emotional ride, showing all the cracks, without being overly sentimental. She writes effortlessly about the rough times with her father all the while imparting humor and the very speci Fairyland is a compelling memoir about a little girl growing up in San Francisco in the 70’s with a single dad Steve Abbott, who was an active gay poet living in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. I loved this book! The author has such an easy style of writing that completely allows the reader to be in sync with the emotional ride, showing all the cracks, without being overly sentimental. She writes effortlessly about the rough times with her father all the while imparting humor and the very special love they shared. It’s inspiring! Further, she expertly recounts their journey in the context of a tumultuous era of poetry, the AIDS epidemic and the anti-gay movement that were integral to her and Steve in 1970’s to 1990’s. I wish I could write as well as she so that this review could do the book justice…. can’t wait to read more from her!

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    A powerful and beautiful memoir of being raised by a gay dad (Steve Abbott) who was also a writer and editor and important cultural figure in San Francisco, who died of AIDS in 1992. A wonderful book, highly recommended for anyone interested in queer history, probably especially appealing to those of us who lived through some part of the eras described. I feel compelled to quote the last few lines of the book: "Though I am straight and haven't had a living gay parent for almost twenty years, I st A powerful and beautiful memoir of being raised by a gay dad (Steve Abbott) who was also a writer and editor and important cultural figure in San Francisco, who died of AIDS in 1992. A wonderful book, highly recommended for anyone interested in queer history, probably especially appealing to those of us who lived through some part of the eras described. I feel compelled to quote the last few lines of the book: "Though I am straight and haven't had a living gay parent for almost twenty years, I still feel a part of this queer community. This queer history is my queer history. This queer history is our queer history." Thanks to Alysia Abbott for making her history our history by writing this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    LibraryReads

    Fairyland: a Memoir of My Father is Alysia Abbott’s memoir of being raised from age 3 by her widowed, poet and activist father, Steve Abbott, in Haight-Ashbury after her mother’s early death in a car accident. Mixing her memories with excerpts drawn from his own writings, Abbott lays bare a unique glimpse into the creative ambitions, personal relationships, daily struggles, and parental devotion of a single, gay poet raising a young daughter amidst the growing gay rights movement, the onset of t Fairyland: a Memoir of My Father is Alysia Abbott’s memoir of being raised from age 3 by her widowed, poet and activist father, Steve Abbott, in Haight-Ashbury after her mother’s early death in a car accident. Mixing her memories with excerpts drawn from his own writings, Abbott lays bare a unique glimpse into the creative ambitions, personal relationships, daily struggles, and parental devotion of a single, gay poet raising a young daughter amidst the growing gay rights movement, the onset of the AIDS crisis, and the evolving backdrop of Haight-Ashbury in the 70’s & 80’s. Not one to shy away from details — be they exuberant, flamboyant, or emotional — Abbott’s Fairyland is an ode to family, love, and life. Do yourself a favor, read it. Reviewed by: Christopher Platt, BookOps

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Really more like 4.5 stars. (Goodreads, why oh why can't we have half stars?) This book is a rare gift to everyone involved, including the reader. In telling the story of her bohemian poet father and bringing to life a long lost San Francisco, Alysia Abbott has demonstrated the difference between memoirs that are only self-indulgent and memoirs that rely also on the memory and work of others, becoming so much more generous and universal. There's a lot of meticulous reporting and beautifully spare Really more like 4.5 stars. (Goodreads, why oh why can't we have half stars?) This book is a rare gift to everyone involved, including the reader. In telling the story of her bohemian poet father and bringing to life a long lost San Francisco, Alysia Abbott has demonstrated the difference between memoirs that are only self-indulgent and memoirs that rely also on the memory and work of others, becoming so much more generous and universal. There's a lot of meticulous reporting and beautifully spare writing here; a real feeling of trust and honor throughout. I flew through the first 3/4 of the book, it was so good and absorbing. I felt like I was right there during her Haight-Ashbury girlhood and completely related to the solace she found in new wave music in the 1980s. There are also some very good passages on what it was like for kids who were among the first to be raised by openly gay fathers. It was interesting to me that as things took a turn for the worse -- when her father and practically every man they know comes down with AIDS or AIDS-related illness in the late '80s/early '90s and Alysia essentially escapes to New York and Paris for college -- that the book also loses a lot of its color and pace. (It was here I also began to notice a few mistakes; the tiniest slips of fact, such as the 1989 earthquake was on a Tuesday, not a Monday, etc.) The tone shift is perhaps necessary to the story itself; it all becomes very sad, and the voice and narrative become less compelling somehow, probably because Alysia is still working through the reasons why she kept her father and his woes at a continent's length (or further). That's understandable; it's the rawest, least resolved part. When I finished it, I could only imagine how proud Steve Abbott would be of his daughter's work.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    Fairyland is a great time capsule that took me back to the ever changing San Francisco literary, social, and queer (Don't say that word!) communities in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. From losing her mother at an early age to being raised by a free-spirited, openly gay father, from learning to get herself invited to other families' dinners to rebelling against her only parent, from beginning to very sad end, Abbott makes "the Abbott" shine in her memoir. Needless to say, the many journals that her fathe Fairyland is a great time capsule that took me back to the ever changing San Francisco literary, social, and queer (Don't say that word!) communities in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. From losing her mother at an early age to being raised by a free-spirited, openly gay father, from learning to get herself invited to other families' dinners to rebelling against her only parent, from beginning to very sad end, Abbott makes "the Abbott" shine in her memoir. Needless to say, the many journals that her father, Steve Abbott, filled with his daily accounts of their lives, and his constant doubts about his career, his love life, his ability to parent a growing teenager, seem central to Abbott's narrative. Although the narrative sometimes gets a bit too self-conscious and defensive/self-accusing, Abbott tries and mostly succeeds in presenting things as they are. She is certainly very harsh on her younger self, a young woman who would rather build a life in Paris or NYC than care for her ailing, dying father in a one bedroom apartment back in SF. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the book is the changing neighborhoods, the stores that were, and the stores that replaced them, the people who occupied the corners in the 70s, and then the 80s, and then the 90s, the RADs and the DAMNs, the earthquake, and then the quake that shook and devastated the gay community. Recommended for those interested in SF history, poetry movements, queer history and politics, and the American near past.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I read Alysia Abbott's painfully honest memoir after hearing her being interviewed on Fresh Air. Her well written story pieces together her own memories with her father's journals to reconstruct their life together -- a gay single father raising a daughter in San Francisco in the 1970's and 80's up until his death from AIDS in 1992(coincidentally within a block of where I lived in the early 1970's). Alysia's parents met as SDS radicals at Emory University in Atlanta GA during the late 1960's whe I read Alysia Abbott's painfully honest memoir after hearing her being interviewed on Fresh Air. Her well written story pieces together her own memories with her father's journals to reconstruct their life together -- a gay single father raising a daughter in San Francisco in the 1970's and 80's up until his death from AIDS in 1992(coincidentally within a block of where I lived in the early 1970's). Alysia's parents met as SDS radicals at Emory University in Atlanta GA during the late 1960's where Alysia's mother accepted her father's (then) bisexuality and the two married. Alysia's mother died in a car accident when she was two and her father, aspiring writer Steve Abbott, moved them both to San Francisco. The memoir takes us through the AIDS epidemic that swept San Francisco and her father's struggle as a writer/poet/activist in the gay community as he attempted to be a caring, devoted and loving father. Alysia poignantly tells her story as a daughter trying to reconcile her own needs with those of her father as she tries to accept his lifestyle choices, his sexuality and later his struggle with AIDS. Much of the book is about her difficult adolescence living in a small unkempt apartment in the Haight, unable to share her father's sexual identity with even her closest friends, dealing with her father and his various lovers and fellow-writers, and not having a stable family support system. Throughout the struggles faced by both father and daughter, the strength of their love and support for each other is beautifully told.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    Alysia grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in San Francisco with her gay activist father, mostly in an apartment at the center of Haight Street. After her mother's death in a car crash when she was very young, her father raised her on his own, moving to the city where he was deeply involved in the local poetry scene and also drew comics. In the 1980s, like so many others, he falls ill from AIDS, and eventually Alysia, by then a college student studying in New York and Paris, comes home to him. I kept Alysia grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in San Francisco with her gay activist father, mostly in an apartment at the center of Haight Street. After her mother's death in a car crash when she was very young, her father raised her on his own, moving to the city where he was deeply involved in the local poetry scene and also drew comics. In the 1980s, like so many others, he falls ill from AIDS, and eventually Alysia, by then a college student studying in New York and Paris, comes home to him. I kept drawing comparisons to several other books in my head - a good sign. It reminded me so much of Just Kids by Patti Smith, a memoir of counterculture, art, and a particular time in a particular city, told by someone as a memoir of their relationship with someone they loved, now deceased. It also brought to mind Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, for the differences illustrated by two daughters of gay men, one closeted, one an activist. And I happened to watch Dallas Buyers Club after finishing this, and the pairing of the two works about the 1980s and the AIDS epidemic and the federal government's response was one that enhanced my understanding and appreciation of both. Finally, I was reminded of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series for all the ways San Francisco features in this memoir.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Terry Carroll

    I deeply loved Alysia Abbott’s “Fairyland,” a memoir recounting her life as an child and teenager, growing up precocious in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in the post-Summer of Love 1970s and ‘80s. She was a girl raised by a single father, Steve Abbott - a gay hippie poet, nearly disfunctional on matters domestic, who blossomed culturally while struggling socially, and died of AIDS when she was just four-days short of twenty-two. Recounting their lives two decades after his death (and four decad I deeply loved Alysia Abbott’s “Fairyland,” a memoir recounting her life as an child and teenager, growing up precocious in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in the post-Summer of Love 1970s and ‘80s. She was a girl raised by a single father, Steve Abbott - a gay hippie poet, nearly disfunctional on matters domestic, who blossomed culturally while struggling socially, and died of AIDS when she was just four-days short of twenty-two. Recounting their lives two decades after his death (and four decades since the death her mother), when she had the perspective of a fully-formed woman and a parent herself, plus the skill of a professional writer, Alysia weaves Steve’s writings with her own, as a sometimes tumultuous, deeply tender, father-daughter love story, in which she lays bare both the successes and shortcomings of her characters. It is a masterpiece of narration, filled with important details of time and place, analysis of circumstances and personalities, and a mixing of the historical and the highly individual.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    "Fairyland" is a remarkable story in which Alysia Abbott takes us into her childhood as a young girl growing up with a gay father. The father-daught relationship is as loving as it is unique. The story includes a different perspective of the 1970's gay rights movement and the AIDS epidemic. Abbott is a true storyteller, grabbing readers with intimate details about the life of an artist and the struggle to be accepted. In the writing, we see Alysia's love for her father. The book also contains St "Fairyland" is a remarkable story in which Alysia Abbott takes us into her childhood as a young girl growing up with a gay father. The father-daught relationship is as loving as it is unique. The story includes a different perspective of the 1970's gay rights movement and the AIDS epidemic. Abbott is a true storyteller, grabbing readers with intimate details about the life of an artist and the struggle to be accepted. In the writing, we see Alysia's love for her father. The book also contains Steve Abbott's poems, journal entries, and drawings, which let us see his strength in coming out and raising a daughter alone during such a challenging time. Alysia holds nothing back, sharing her resentments and embarrassments, her love and her shame. Upon finishing the book, every reader will feel an emotional connection to the author and her story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    This is the horribly sad and sometimes really beautiful story of a girl raised by her single gay father in San Francisco in the 80s during the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. Abbott writes well, and I was pretty much immediately sucked in. She describes her father and her relationship with him, his boyfriends, his work, and the places around the city they frequented and called home, as well as her struggles with her father's sexuality and with the way they lived with such clarity and honesty... I This is the horribly sad and sometimes really beautiful story of a girl raised by her single gay father in San Francisco in the 80s during the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. Abbott writes well, and I was pretty much immediately sucked in. She describes her father and her relationship with him, his boyfriends, his work, and the places around the city they frequented and called home, as well as her struggles with her father's sexuality and with the way they lived with such clarity and honesty... I totally finished this book in tears. It's a quick read, though certainly not always an easy read. I just happened across it while sorting at the library and was drawn to the cover, not knowing anything at all about it. I'm really glad I brought it home with me though.

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