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Debbie Harry Sings in French by Meagan…

Debbie Harry Sings in French

by Meagan Brothers

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The story follows Johnny from the tragedy of losing his father, through drug additiction and loneliness, to a new start living with his uncle and making friends with Maria, a rebel. Johnny learns that there are those who love him, even if he does like to dress up like Debbie Harry. ( )
  DrApple | Aug 20, 2010 |
Reviewed by Breanna F. for TeensReadToo.com

Johnny has had a bit of a tough life so far and he has always been somewhat of a freak. When he was younger, his father died and his mother completely fell apart. Johnny had to learn how to pay the bills and practically take care of the both of them. When Johnny ended up falling into the Goth scene, his mother somehow came out of her funk and became all concerned for Johnny. All Johnny wants to do is party with his friends and drink. But, one night at a club, this girl gives him some sort of drug when all he wanted was an aspirin - and he ends up in the hospital from a drug overdose.

Of course, after the overdose, his mother sends him to rehab, and while there Johnny discovers Debbie Harry of Blondie singing in French. He is immediately taken aback. Debbie's voice blows him away, and it doesn't hurt that she's a complete bombshell.

After Johnny gets back from rehab, things are a bit weird between him and his mother. His mom can't handle it, so she sends him away to live with his Uncle Sam and his daughter, Bug, in South Carolina. Johnny is flaming angry at first, but once there realizes that his Uncle is pretty great and Bug is an awesome little kid. And of course, there's Maria Costello (as in Elvis). She's an interesting girl who Johnny takes a liking to pretty quickly. When Maria discovers Johnny's love of Debbie, and that secretly Johnny wants to be like her, she buys this dress that looks like one of Debbie's and tells Johnny about a drag contest in New York. At first Johnny doesn't know whether she's serious or if she's making fun of him.

With trying to practice for the contest, helping Bug with projects for school, getting bullied nonstop by some guys who used to be Maria's friends, and dealing with the fact that his mother can't handle him, Johnny has a lot on his plate.

DEBBIE HARRY SINGS IN FRENCH was a great debut novel by Meagan Brothers. It puts you inside the head of a pretty confused young man. Things are tough enough for teenagers in the first place, but when you throw in the loss of a parent things can be even harder. The title had me intrigued when I first picked up this book and it didn't let me down. Johnny was a really great in-depth character and so was Maria.

If you're in the mood for reading about a slightly troubled boy who turns to Debbie Harry and his girlfriend Maria to keep him from starting to drink again, then this is a great book for you. ( )
  GeniusJen | Jul 8, 2010 |
When I first finished this book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I thought the story was interesting, and there were parts of it I thought were done well, but it felt almost too light. I’m not saying I was expecting a heavy-handed tale, or even that I think that it should have been, but it seemed as if the “big issue” that’s pushed about the book is actually skirted around (no pun intended) for a lot of the story.
I think the biggest surprise in reading this is that it’s not until almost halfway through the book that Johnny even seriously considers dressing like Debbie Harry. To me it seemed like the book would deal more with Johnny working through his confusion, and either trying to keep it a secret from his girlfriend and family or dealing with their reactions to it. But it’s really not. It’s more about a boy who has made some mistakes, mistakes that almost killed him, and is sent to another state to an uncle he barely knows and has to rebuild his life. The story, as it’s told, isn’t a bad one, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Johnny is an interesting character because throughout the course of the book he takes on three or four different personas depending on who he’s with at the time. He didn’t strike me as a person who changes because he thinks he has to in order to fit in, but because he’s trying to figure out the person he wants to be. I think that made him as a main character a little hard to grasp onto, because I could never get a good feel for who Johnny really was, but at the same time it was a realistic portrayal of the period in life when guys and girls are trying to establish their identities. He seemed like a good kid in the sense that he was genuinely committed to cleaning up his life and worked hard to that end. And although he was a little confused about why he felt comfortable in a dress, he was confident enough that he didn’t bend to the petty taunting of some of his classmates, which was admirable. However, it’s Johnny’s relationship with his Uncle Sam and the subsequent discoveries about his father that are the most poignant parts of the story in my eyes.
Although the story wasn’t focused in the direction I came in expecting it to be, I actually liked how the transvestite angle was covered in the sense that it’s enough to start a dialogue that may not otherwise happen. It blurs the stereotypical lines of what it means to be heterosexual versus homosexual, and shows that snap judgments that people make regarding sexuality can be far from true.
I wasn’t wowed by this book, but because of its unique storyline and ability to open discussions about controversial issues, I found it to be worth reading. ( )
  ericajsc | Apr 21, 2010 |
This book has barely anything to do with 'Debbie Harry' but is clever and [humorously] written. The title made me choose this book. AHS/KA

This book has barely anything to do with “Debbie Harry,” but it’s clever and funnily written. AHS/KA
  edspicer | Nov 19, 2009 |
Johnny turns to drinking after his dad dies in a car accident. His mother is overcome by grief and isn’t much of a mother at all. Johnny takes over the responsibilities of the grocery shopping, paying the bills and caring for his mother the way she should be caring for him. Drinking seems to be the only thing that can relieve the stress. His drinking habits also influence his choice of friends and his appearance. He’s used to being called names in his black clothes, black hair, black nails and eyeliner. When Johnny wakes in the hospital from a possible drug overdose, his mom sends him to live with his father’s brother, Uncle Sam, in South Carolina.The one thing, well the one person that keeps Johnny on the straight and narrow is Debbie Harry the singer from Blondie. Once Johnny heard her singing in his stay in rehab, he has a slight obsession. He wishes he could be more like her, strong, tough, cool and beautiful. At his new school Johnny meets Maria who also shares in his love of music. He knows he is falling in love with Maria, so why does he want to be Debbie Harry and wear her clothes?Have you heard of Debbie Harry Sings in French? Well, I hadn't and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But this novel ended up leaving a strong impression. Johnny’s story is very interesting to say the least. This books main theme is a teen trying to find his identity, he doesn’t think he is gay, but he likes to feel beautiful and he even wears a dress in one part of the story. Brother’s also incorporates a very real and compelling look into homosexuality and transvetism. I couldn’t help but feel empathetic. He ends up learning more about his father toward the end of the story and Johnny’s musical and artistic style makes more sense. Debbie Harry Sings in French is Meagan Brother’s debut novel. I would recommend it to readers who like music and are looking for something fresh and enlightening. ( )
  the_story_siren | Jul 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805080805, Hardcover)

Johnny’s had kind of a tough life so far, and he’s always been a bit of a freak. His goth look usually includes black nail polish and a little mascara.When he discovers Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, he not only likes her music but realizes that he kind of, sort of, wants to BE her. He’d like to be cool and tough and beautiful like her. He’d like to dress like her. He’s not gay, at least he doesn’t think so. So what does it mean? And what should he tell his amazing new girlfriend?

This wise, hip novel introduces shades of gray into the black-and-white ideas of sexuality and gender. Anyone who has ever wished they could be a little bit tough and a little bit glamorous will recognize themselves in Johnny.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:05 -0400)

When Johnny completes an alcohol rehabilitation program and his mother sends him to live with his uncle in North Carolina, he meets Maria, who seems to understand his fascination with the new wave band Blondie, and he learns about his deceased father's youthful forays into "glam rock," which gives him perspective on himself, his past, and his current life.… (more)

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