Read: Book Page’s starred review of LIKE A LOVE STORY

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Author Abdi Nazemian brings emotional depth and a dreamy soundtrack to the story of a teen love triangle set in New York during a turning point in the AIDS crisis.

It’s 1989, and Iranian teen Reza is new to the city, having recently left Toronto to live with his mom and new stepfather. Reza knows he’s gay but is terrified to say so, let alone act on it. He quickly befriends the two coolest freaks in his new high school. Judy is a skilled fashion designer, and her best friend, a photographer named Art, is the school’s only out gay student. Both Judy and Art are devoted to Judy’s uncle, Stephen, an activist who is dying of AIDS. And Judy and Art are both attracted to Reza, but in order to follow his heart, Reza will have to confront both his fears and his family.

While the main characters in this story are all fictional, the ACT UP demonstrations vividly depicted here really happened, and cameo appearances by artist Keith Haring and musical icon Debbie Harry put the reader right in the middle of it all. Uncle Stephen makes Art a collection of index cards with info about important figures in queer history—like Marsha P. Johnson—and readers will hopefully be inspired to do further research.

I was in high school a little before these kids, and the fear and isolation they go through rings painfully true, as does the unfettered joy that comes when you find your people. Like a Love Story made me cry, but it also made me feel mighty real.

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