Book Review: “The House of Impossible Beauties” by Joseph Cassara

House of Impossible BeautiesInspired by the real events captured in the documentary “Paris Is Burning”, this novel follows the lives of 4 young, Latin-American, gay and transgender people in 1980’s New York. Angel, Venus, Juanito, and Daniel all left behind troubled pasts to try and make it on their own in the city, and wind up forming their own family with each other, as they struggle to get by however they can. There are moments of incredible beauty and joy in this book, as the 4 of them make the best of their situation, comfort each other, and fall in love. But of course, being poor and facing frequent discrimination, even in a city as liberal as New York, means that life comes with more than its share of darkness as well, which this book doesn’t shy away from. Drug addiction was rampant in the city’s gay party scene at the time and the AIDS crisis was in full swing, and both of these things take their toll on our protagonists’ lives. The highly romanticized look at the era that occupies much of the book only makes the tragedies that strike at the end that much more impactful. Written mostly in the third person, but in the sassy, Spanglish language of the characters, it makes the story feel more personal, and really helps you feel like you are a part of their lives. This is a very sad and very beautiful book, that exposes the reader to a world they probably know nothing about, filled with people who they will remember for a long time to come. A strong contender for one of the year’s best. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell


Print Book

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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