Critically acclaimed author of We Are the Ants—described as having “hints of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five” (School Library Journal)—opens up about what led to an attempted suicide in his teens, and his path back from the experience.
“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”
Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.
A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.
Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.
About the Author
Shaun David Hutchinson is the author of numerous books for young adults, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, At the Edge of the Universe, and We Are the Ants. He also edited the anthologies Violent Ends and Feral Youth and wrote the memoir Brave Face, which chronicles his struggles with depression and coming out during his teenage years. He lives in Seattle, where he enjoys drinking coffee, yelling at the TV, and eating cake. Visit him at ShaunDavidHutchinson.com or on Twitter @ShaunieDarko.
"Shaun David Hutchinson has been hammering out one brilliant book after another, and Brave Face is his most honest and courageous one yet. This profound memoir is a triumph--a full-throated howl to the moon to remind us why we choose to survive and thrive."
— Brendan Kiely, New York Times bestselling author of Tradition
"Shaun David Hutchinson has long been one of our brightest lights and best storytellers. In Brave Face, he shares all the sh*t he had to survive to get there - and how we can too. Brutal and essential.”
— Sam J. Miller, award-winning author of The Art of Starving
"As much a book about coming out as it is a book about simply coming to be, Brave Face is the bravest memoir I've read in years. Illuminating, brutally honest, poignant, and sometimes laugh out loud funny, this isn't a book just for queer kids, it's a book for any teen (or adult) who feels left out, rejected, confused, and scared about their place in the world.”
— --Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces
"Fearless and resonant, Hutchinson’s memoir explores personal darkness with profound candor and earned wisdom. Courageous, devastating, and beautiful.”
— --Caleb Roehrig, author of Death Prefers Blondes
"It takes talent to render personal truth with clear-eyed honesty, and deep empathy for the wounded, bewildered selves we’ve been. It takes greater bravery to share that truth. Hutchinson has talent and bravery in droves and BRAVE FACE is a triumph. This book is a balm and I’m grateful it exists."
— --Alex London, bestselling author of Proxyand Black Wings Beating
YA author Hutchinson (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried) explores the travails of coming into his sexuality in the early 1990s, when homophobia was deeply rampant in the U.S., the AIDS crisis was in devastating full force, and equal rights for anyone on the LGBTQ spectrum were still a distant dream. With the lack of positive representation of queerness, Hutchinson’s views of gay people were so negative that it took him years to recognize his own sexuality. In the meantime, trying to live an inauthentic life left him angry and depressed for reasons he couldn’t grasp. The author explores his teenage years with raw honesty, presenting the truth as he saw it and sharing passages from his diaries to illustrate the turmoil he experienced—which many queer teens will continue to empathize with. Though he describes himself at times in deep depression and engaging in self harm, the memoir ends on a positive note, sharing the ways in which he finds acceptance both within himself and within the queer community, and sending an important message to other queer teens: your life is a gift, and support is out there.
— Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW
Hutchinson (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, 2019) lays bare his high-school and early college years—his coming out, the resulting family tension, friendship difficulties, depression, selfharm, failed relationships, a suicide attempt—in this razor-sharp, deeply revealing, and brutally honest exploration of growing up gay in the South amid an intolerant sociopolitical backdrop that seems hell bent on denying him a future. Emotionally raw and deeply insightful, Hutchinson's reminiscence of his earlier years is not tainted by the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, nor is his story so macabre as to avoid heartwarming moments and frequent instances of humor to break up the tension: "I was right! Kissing really was like an H. P. Lovecraft story, but with less xenophobia and racism." Although this is a straightforward coming-out narrative in some ways, the depth and complexity of each recounted moment serve to illustrate to readers the myriad ways in which society creates paradoxical and near-impossible expectations for queer young people to adhere to on a daily basis. Brave Face serves not just as a personal story but as a guide to help queer and questioning readers survive—better yet, to thrive—against all odds, in defiance of a world that so often appears to want them to fade away. — Rob Bittner
— Booklist *STARRED REVIEW*
Coming of age in the 1990s, Shaun David Hutchinson (At the Edge of the Universe) knew certain things about being gay from the messages society sent: "Gay people, especially gay men, were so often portrayed as promiscuous sexual deviants and drug abusers that, even in spite of my own limited personal experience, it's how I saw them too." Through pop culture, politics and news headlines, Shaun learned "there was no future to being gay," which presented a tremendous problem for the teen when he finally came to terms with the fact that he is gay.
In his powerful memoir, Brave Face, the young adult author bares his soul to the world about realizing his sexual orientation and suffering from a depression so profound he attempted suicide. Hutchinson's raw honesty pierces readers as he describes his fight to find an identity in a world that viewed homosexuals as "so worthless that they didn't even deserve to live." His fear and pain radiate off the pages, demanding others experience a small part of it, too. Audiences will be hard-pressed not to feel the emotional weight Hutchinson carries: "It was like every person I came into contact with was plugging themselves into me, and occasionally I'd overload and short." His journey to acceptance is one marred with struggle and loss, but also imbued with hope.
Hutchinson's gift for language makes this uncomfortable story beautiful and forceful. Courageous and commanding, Brave Face is a bold, banner announcement that there is a future for everyone. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Discover: A young adult writer tells his personal story of coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his battle with life-threatening depression.
— Shelf Awareness