STARRED REVIEW
June 2015

Growing up goth

By David Crabb
Review by
There’s probably no place that’s ideal for a teenage boy to realize he’s gay, but among the truly suboptimal locations consider San Antonio, Texas. The heat melts all the product out of your hair, and there’s a good chance your classmates know your secret before you do and are prepared to start torturing you well in advance of your coming out. So it was for David Crabb.
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There’s probably no place that’s ideal for a teenage boy to realize he’s gay, but among the truly suboptimal locations consider San Antonio, Texas. The heat melts all the product out of your hair, and there’s a good chance your classmates know your secret before you do and are prepared to start torturing you well in advance of your coming out. So it was for David Crabb. 

When a classmate knocked him cold with a pair of encyclopedias, he vowed to tone down his natural exuberance, ultimately toning it down so far he became a goth, a virtual garbage disposal for narcotics, and something of a Bad Kid.

Crabb, a favorite on the Moth storytelling circuit, delivers an account that’s shot through with sadness—abusive friendships, beatdowns from skinheads and his father’s struggle to accept him are just a few of the tough spots—yet Bad Kid is often laugh-out-loud hilarious. When he’s forced to move to his mother’s new home in Seguin, a conservative cow town, Crabb tries once again to cultivate an anonymous, button-down look for school. “By midweek I had the nickname ‘RuPaul,’ . . . Seguin kids were so taken aback by me that their nearest cultural reference point was a seven-foot-tall, black drag queen.”

After venturing out on his own, Crabb begins to find confidence and a more grounded place in his relationships. That’s a lot of personal growth in a book that will change the way you look at both pickles and litter boxes for entirely freaky reasons. If Crabb was truly a Bad Kid, at least he grew into a man with the chops to tell the tale, and it’s one we’re lucky to have. 

 

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Bad Kid

Bad Kid

By David Crabb
Harper Perennial
ISBN 9780062371287

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