Hot Best Seller

My Government Means to Kill Me

Availability: Ready to download

A fierce and riveting queer coming-of-age story following the personal and political awakening of a young gay Black man in 1980s New York City, from the television drama writer and producer of The Chi, Narcos, and Bel-Air. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to A fierce and riveting queer coming-of-age story following the personal and political awakening of a young gay Black man in 1980s New York City, from the television drama writer and producer of The Chi, Narcos, and Bel-Air. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activists, becomes a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships—all while seeking the meaning of life amid so much death. Vibrant, humorous, and fraught with entanglements, Rasheed Newson’s My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political and social reckoning.


Compare

A fierce and riveting queer coming-of-age story following the personal and political awakening of a young gay Black man in 1980s New York City, from the television drama writer and producer of The Chi, Narcos, and Bel-Air. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to A fierce and riveting queer coming-of-age story following the personal and political awakening of a young gay Black man in 1980s New York City, from the television drama writer and producer of The Chi, Narcos, and Bel-Air. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, Earl “Trey” Singleton III leaves his overbearing parents and their expectations behind by running away to New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activists, becomes a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships—all while seeking the meaning of life amid so much death. Vibrant, humorous, and fraught with entanglements, Rasheed Newson’s My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political and social reckoning.

30 review for My Government Means to Kill Me

  1. 4 out of 5

    Inés Molina

    I am left speechless.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    (This is a highly imperfect review, but I'm going with it because this book deserves every bit of attention it can get—and I'm tired of writing and erasing, writing and erasing while trying to find *the* right way to talk about it.) Rasheed Newson's My Government Means to Kill Me is one of those absolutely essential novel that one doesn't realize is needed until one has read it. It's the fictional memoir of Trey Newson, a young, Black gay man who's moved from Indianapolis to New York City in the (This is a highly imperfect review, but I'm going with it because this book deserves every bit of attention it can get—and I'm tired of writing and erasing, writing and erasing while trying to find *the* right way to talk about it.) Rasheed Newson's My Government Means to Kill Me is one of those absolutely essential novel that one doesn't realize is needed until one has read it. It's the fictional memoir of Trey Newson, a young, Black gay man who's moved from Indianapolis to New York City in the early 1980s at the start of the AIDS epidemic. Trey is naive, but observant, and realizes that, as the title states, his government does mean to kill him. He sees the lack of response to the AIDS epidemic and the disproportionate impact it's having on the Black community. He establishes an unlikely friendship with Bayard Rustin who acts as a sort of Socratic mentor, questioning Trey to help him explore his own experiences and values. He volunteers for gay Men's Health Crisis and takes part in the creation of ACT-UP. Trey's story makes for an engaging, frustrating, infuriating, and hopeful story of those years. What I find particularly remarkable about this book is its use of footnotes. Yes, footnotes. Newson isn't just writing for those who lived through the AIDS epidemic and who will understand his references to real-life events and peoples. He's also writing for the "Treys" of today—young queer folk who we born two decades later than the time in which the novel is set. In the 1980s, I was doing a good deal of outreach to teachers, urging them to embrace the fact that—whether or not they knew who was who—they had queer kids in their classes, and kids with queer parents, and that they had a particular responsibility to this student population. One of the points I kept emphasizing in my work was that growing up queer presents specific challenges. And one challenge I emphasized was that queer kids are members of a culture that involves far more than sexual or affectional identity. Being queer meant being part of a community—a community with its own cultural icons, its own history, its own popular culture, its own holidays, its own faith institutions. Yet, because of homophobia, along with the fact that most queer kids are raised within straight families, the kids had very little knowledge of that culture. And because it was a culture they were born into, but not *raised* in, they generally weren't able to draw on it as a source of strength and pride. The queer community is much more visible now, but it's still not uncommon for a queer kid to feel as if they may be the only one, that there's no place where who they are is normal, where they can find others like themselves. And things were so much worse in the 80s. What I love about this novel above all else is the footnotes. Yep, footnotes. Newson's writing is full of references to historical events, political movements, and real-world individuals, and he uses footnotes to explain in a clear and accessible way what and who those events, movements, and people are. If you were a queer adult during the 80s, you may not need all this supplemental information. But if you're straight or if you weren't yet born in the 80s, My Government Means to Kill Me makes those years accessible. It gives readers an entree into queer culture at a time of particular challenge and of powerful resistance. And we could definitely use that sort of resistance in meeting the challenges of our current challenges. If you're able, you should be buying copies of My Government Means to Kill Me for every young adult in your life (queer or not) and for every public library around you. You should be leaving copies of it in those little free libraries people have on their front lawns. You should be giving copies to parents, to aunts, to uncles, to grandparents. We need this history. We need it now. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook….narrated by Jelani Alladin (phenomenal reader!) Historical, political, personal….and powerful!!! ….a fiction novel that reads like a memoir. People were dying on the streets with AIDS during the 80s. It was especially a very challenging time for the queer culture. Trey Singleton was a young Black gay man living in NYC — estranged from his wealthy Indianapolis family —during the ‘80’s. He tells a very raw - gripping coming-of-age-story…(I thought the estrangement was very sad including Audiobook….narrated by Jelani Alladin (phenomenal reader!) Historical, political, personal….and powerful!!! ….a fiction novel that reads like a memoir. People were dying on the streets with AIDS during the 80s. It was especially a very challenging time for the queer culture. Trey Singleton was a young Black gay man living in NYC — estranged from his wealthy Indianapolis family —during the ‘80’s. He tells a very raw - gripping coming-of-age-story…(I thought the estrangement was very sad including the ending part: personal aspects of Trey’s relationship with his parents) The historical footnotes throughout differentiate between fiction and facts. Content includes: ….sexual encounters, (explicit sex), bath houses, racism, privileged, trouble with the law, homelessness, misogyny, blackness, queerness, the HIV/AIDS crisis, activism, civil rights movement, housing and rent strikes, big band music, theater, art, hospice, complaints and violations….. …..with real life characters: Trump, Dorothy Cotton - etc. Funny stories — JUICY, SEXY, MISCHIEVOUS, CHARMING… sinners… hairy nipples… piercings on a man’s scrotum priests… boyfriends… sugar daddy’s… dumb romance… and… a talent for keeping ones inter-smart ass in tact!! Black Pride! Tough-ass-beautiful people, young studs swapping sex stories, smoking weed, dressed fashionably, (khaki pants), thin tapered waists, eating peanut butter out of a jar with a stick knife, reading the Rolling Stones… Sadness under the surface … Memories from Mom…(her wisdom intertwined with Trey’s inner voice): “Don’t start nothin, won’t be nothin”— mama always said- And…. the battle Trey was having living his life the way he wanted vs. the frustrating loss he felt with his parents — So…..while the storytelling is funny, juicy, deeply understandable —engaging —free spirited and raw….. I felt the ‘heart-wrenching’ estrangement and abandonment very sad too. Terrific Audiobook!!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Phil Dowell (philsbookcorner)

    Narration: 5 Stars Story: 5 Stars The point is to let your bruised and bloodied bodies serve as evidence that the government means to kill you, if you so much as protest its bigoted policies. This, right here, is a powerhouse debut - hilarious, heartbreaking, poignant, sexy, and thought-provoking, this is easily my favorite book of the year thus far! I loved the way this story was told - it's divided up into different lessons, rather than chapters, lessons like "a sanctuary can be a sordid place" Narration: 5 Stars Story: 5 Stars The point is to let your bruised and bloodied bodies serve as evidence that the government means to kill you, if you so much as protest its bigoted policies. This, right here, is a powerhouse debut - hilarious, heartbreaking, poignant, sexy, and thought-provoking, this is easily my favorite book of the year thus far! I loved the way this story was told - it's divided up into different lessons, rather than chapters, lessons like "a sanctuary can be a sordid place" & "victory can be a thorny crown", & is presented in an autobiographical way from the perspective of Trey, a young, gay Black man in NYC in the 1980's. It was fascinating seeing how Newson wove real life queer & non-queer historical figures & events throughout - I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed the footnotes, which provided a little more context into specific moments within the story (the physical book is a must). Newson's writing was phenomenal, I'm surprised at just how much he was able to pack in a book that's just under 300 pgs. Amongst other important topics this covered activism, Blackness, the HIV/AIDS crisis, misogyny, queerness, privilege, & racism - not only are you given an amazing story, you're provided with an opportunity to learn more about people & events often shadowed throughout history. & I can't finish this review off without giving a huge standing ovation for our audiobook narrator, Jelani Alladin - what a performance, he really made these characters & this story come to life! I highly recommend grabbing both a physical & audio copy upon release next week, trust me when I say this is story you don't want to miss! & thank you so much Rasheed Newson, NetGalley & Macmillan Audio for providing an ALC, & Flatiron Books for providing an ARC, in exchange for a honest review!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Monte Price

    Have I read a book like this before? I'm not quite sure if I'm being honest. Obviously I've picked up historical fiction, I've read books centering queer characters, books featuring fictional characters interacting with or referencing real people. I've read a lot of books in my life, adn yet this one seems to defy explanation. It's a narrative for sure, somehow a very narrow yet expansive look into the life of Trey, and one that I think will stick with me. I can freely admit that I have a soft spot Have I read a book like this before? I'm not quite sure if I'm being honest. Obviously I've picked up historical fiction, I've read books centering queer characters, books featuring fictional characters interacting with or referencing real people. I've read a lot of books in my life, adn yet this one seems to defy explanation. It's a narrative for sure, somehow a very narrow yet expansive look into the life of Trey, and one that I think will stick with me. I can freely admit that I have a soft spot for a good footnote. There's something about that little extra nugget of information that I eat up when a book introduces them, and I thought it was extra playful how the footnotes and Trey's story occasionally played off one another as though some third party was interacting with the first person narration that the narrative is told in. I don't think that this is a book for everyone. I think how you feel about the first few chapters of the book make it clear how the tone is going to be going forward and if you're going to be able to connect to the narrative in a way that will enrich your reading experience. In some ways the chapters felt episodic, and I don't know if that's just because I was aware of the fact that Newson has a history in making content for television that I projected that into the book or if it's a byproduct of the way I've been reading books lately in attempting to see how they could be adapted. This gives big miniseries energy. Lots of off colored flashbacks, I could see it working out. It's potentially a book I'd get more out of if I read it again, or if I picked up a finished copy and not simply the earc I read for the purposes of crafting this review. And while I wouldn't urge everyone to pick up a copy I do think that if the premise sounds interesting to you that the narrative does a good job on delivering that in a way that I personally found satisfying and engaging to read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    I was a very lucky recipient of an advance copy of Rasheed Newson's absolutely fantastic book "My Government Means to Kill Me: A Novel" Trey's 1980's NYC black, queer, coming of age story is unflinching and candid and filled with a very well known cast of characters that incorporate very important history lessons into this fictionalized tale. Newson's book made me proud that such courage exists in the LGBTQ community, and that it has existed for years, with it highlighting the strength and tenaci I was a very lucky recipient of an advance copy of Rasheed Newson's absolutely fantastic book "My Government Means to Kill Me: A Novel" Trey's 1980's NYC black, queer, coming of age story is unflinching and candid and filled with a very well known cast of characters that incorporate very important history lessons into this fictionalized tale. Newson's book made me proud that such courage exists in the LGBTQ community, and that it has existed for years, with it highlighting the strength and tenacity of activists in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. It has put me on a quest to read more about the real people walking through this novel. Set to release on August 23rd, I'd really urge picking up a copy. I know I plan on getting several to give as gifts. Thank you @rasheed.newson.author for this book! Special thanks to @netgalley and @flatiron_books as well!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin (Brooklyn Book Fanatic)

    A wonderful and insightful look into the 1980s New York City scene. Heavy on all things aids/hiv, activism, and even family and societal acceptance over diversity in sexuality and race. But it’s balanced out with sex and mentorship and historical landmarks and music references. A fast, good read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Novel Visits

    Only a couple chapters into 𝐌𝐘 𝐆𝐎𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐍𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐓𝐎 𝐊𝐈𝐋𝐋 ME by Rasheed Newson, I had to go online to double check that the book is actually fiction. It reads SO MUCH like a memoir which is one of the things that made this book so special. Trey Singleton is 17, Black, and queer fleeing his wealthy Indianapolis family in order to find himself and his people in 1980’s NYC. Trey’s a charismatic guy and he finds many friends willing to help educate him, not only in living as a queer man, but also as a Only a couple chapters into 𝐌𝐘 𝐆𝐎𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐍𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐓𝐎 𝐊𝐈𝐋𝐋 ME by Rasheed Newson, I had to go online to double check that the book is actually fiction. It reads SO MUCH like a memoir which is one of the things that made this book so special. Trey Singleton is 17, Black, and queer fleeing his wealthy Indianapolis family in order to find himself and his people in 1980’s NYC. Trey’s a charismatic guy and he finds many friends willing to help educate him, not only in living as a queer man, but also as a queer Black man. Obviously, Trey’s timing coincides with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which ultimately becomes the heart of this story.⁣ ⁣ The very best part of 𝘔𝘺 𝘎𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘔𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘒𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘔𝘦 is that it’s chock full of real people and events and those are all thoroughly footnoted at the end of each chapter. It was a true history lesson! I loved finding out all kinds of details/intel that I hadn’t ever known or was misinformed about. Equally as impressive is the way Newson weaves his young protagonist’s coming-of-age story in with the lives of real life legends of race, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS activism. The story is raw and gritty. It definitely won't be for every reader, but for anyone who was drawn to 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘉𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘥 𝘖𝘯 and wants to learn more about the role the Black LGBTQ+ community played during that era, this is a book you need to read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣ ⁣ Thanks to @flatironbooks for an ARC of #MyGovernmentMeansToKillMe.⁣

  9. 4 out of 5

    August Thompson

    "Until Dorothy removed the scales from my eyes, I'd had one hundred ways of asking one thing: Why did I feel hunted in my homeland? Because my government means to kill me. Amen! Amen and glory hallelujah! At last, I could explain the force shaping my existence." An explosive, electric tour of gay 1980s New York. We see it through the eyes of Trey Singleton, a young gay Black man who's run away from a family secret in Indiana and crash-landed in the city, whose energy, passion, and idealism are "Until Dorothy removed the scales from my eyes, I'd had one hundred ways of asking one thing: Why did I feel hunted in my homeland? Because my government means to kill me. Amen! Amen and glory hallelujah! At last, I could explain the force shaping my existence." An explosive, electric tour of gay 1980s New York. We see it through the eyes of Trey Singleton, a young gay Black man who's run away from a family secret in Indiana and crash-landed in the city, whose energy, passion, and idealism are catching. Through Trey we are taken into sex-charged bathhouse "dark rooms" that feel almost mythical now, into home hospices filled with dying men, into the crowded apartments filled with enthusiastic young activists. All of these places and others are dripping with history, so much so that the book is heavily annotated with historical information about the people and places and cultural references Trey comes into contact with. I really feel like I learned a lot, and now I'm raring to learn more. This book is also a call to action. Activism and volunteering are such important parts of Trey's life, reminding us of the work that has been done to get us our rights and our lives, and thus of the work left to do. This book is sexy and energetic and political and historical and and and and. God. Just go pick it up yourself and see what I mean. Plus, come on, the cover is gorgeous. (ARC received through the bookstore where I work in exchange for honest reviews.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aleks

    What an absolutely fascinating novel. Written in the form of a memoir, this bildungsroman tells the story of a young Black gay man, living in New York City at the start of the AIDS epidemic. This book feels exceptionally timely, and although some of the messaging is a little heavy-handed, it's overall a thoughtful, compelling exploration of community activism, love, and life in the 80s. Definitely worth a read. What an absolutely fascinating novel. Written in the form of a memoir, this bildungsroman tells the story of a young Black gay man, living in New York City at the start of the AIDS epidemic. This book feels exceptionally timely, and although some of the messaging is a little heavy-handed, it's overall a thoughtful, compelling exploration of community activism, love, and life in the 80s. Definitely worth a read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Candice Montgomery

    jesus.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alli Theis

    There’s a lot I could say about this book but here are my 2 main takeaways: 1) how is this a novel?! I read the entire thing thinking it was a memoir, it felt that real and honest. 2) the footnotes were extremely helpful! I was also very grateful I had the background of And the Band Played On, as a lot of references and events coincided with each other. 5/5 and one of my top books this year. Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Syd

    this book ..... hmm. I won this in a goodreads giveaway and it was a highly anticipated read for me this month. but it really let me down. easiest for me to describe my issues with this book in a list format bc I wrote them down in my notes app. okay first what I liked: - entertaining enough because so much is happening, there is constant conflict / drama / story happening so it does keep you engaged. - queer history / facts are referenced heavily and I really appreciated that. I actually learned a this book ..... hmm. I won this in a goodreads giveaway and it was a highly anticipated read for me this month. but it really let me down. easiest for me to describe my issues with this book in a list format bc I wrote them down in my notes app. okay first what I liked: - entertaining enough because so much is happening, there is constant conflict / drama / story happening so it does keep you engaged. - queer history / facts are referenced heavily and I really appreciated that. I actually learned a lot of stuff that I had never heard of before and I think that's really special to talk about more of our history. - that's it lmao things I disliked *one spoiler but it's listed at the very end about lesbian portrayal*: - the main characters voice is incredibly flat / you don't really ever get to know HIM you only know what he's doing and very very minor inner workings. the depth was really lacking for me. - mix of fiction and non fiction was confusing and jumbled. it felt like it would've made more sense to have characters based off of real life players rather than to write a fictionalized version of true events including very real people but centered around a fictional character ? in such a pivotal era of queer history? it just honestly,,,kinda felt disrespectful almost since he was made out to be a hero / big player in this movement. - there is TOOO much going on. the main character shows up in NYC and somehow becomes involved in every aspect of the queer scene? and becomes like a leader in some aspects while having no primary motivation, like he just walks into this shit and ends up in these situations and I just find it so flat and unbelievable. like everything kind of goes right for him, conflicts barely last any time at all like HUGE conflicts that could really make up a whole book's plot last for a chapter or two? idk man. maybe it would work as a TV show. - the dialogue in every argument felt like it relied on exclamation points rather than actual dialogue/language. again just kinda flat to me. - also if you have a scene where there's a public argument that happens and bystanders CLAP AND CHEER AND WHISTLE?? immediately no. - the characters family dilemmas were talked about (when they were talked about) as if they were really central to plot or character and they just;,,did not feel that way at all honestly. things about his family are mentioned at times that don't make sense and repetitively, when it would make more sense and have a better impact later on / at specific points. - THE WAY LESBIANS WERE (NOT) PORTRAYED !! there is one lesbian character that is actually present in this book and she runs a "hospice" for men with HIV/AIDS and literally *SPOILER* she ends up being an angel of death?? even though there's no (based on anything I could find / the lack of footnotes regarding this storyline in the book) proof that anything like this occurred during the AIDS epidemic? like the author literally has so many references to fact throughout this whole book and then when it came to a lesbian made her an angel of death, when lesbians gave so much to this movement by being the primary caretakers? idk again it just felt kinda whack to me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Scott

    4.5/5 Rasheed Newson's debut novel, My Government Means to Kill Me, is such a phenomenal addition to the zeitgeist of queer fiction. Newson, so brilliantly, blends the fictional narrative of Trey Singleton's coming-of-age with some people, organizations, and events that are linked to the reality of 1980's New York: Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, "The Black Doodler," Bill Buckley, Marvin Liebman, Larry Kramer, ACT UP, etc. (this is TRULY just to name a FEW). The footnotes throughout this novel do a 4.5/5 Rasheed Newson's debut novel, My Government Means to Kill Me, is such a phenomenal addition to the zeitgeist of queer fiction. Newson, so brilliantly, blends the fictional narrative of Trey Singleton's coming-of-age with some people, organizations, and events that are linked to the reality of 1980's New York: Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, "The Black Doodler," Bill Buckley, Marvin Liebman, Larry Kramer, ACT UP, etc. (this is TRULY just to name a FEW). The footnotes throughout this novel do a great job differentiating the fictional events from the reality of the situations. Newson DEFINITELY took some liberties with the incorporation of these real elements in his story, so I'm glad that he included the footnotes to cue the reader in on the liberties taken. Overall, I think this is such a phenomenal coming-of-age story about Trey, a gay, black man that is estranged from his wealthy family and attempting to make it on his own in NYC; he meets many people along the way that aid in his journey to self-discovery and the importance of standing up for what he believes to be right. Trey's development throughout the novel is masterfully crafted by Newson; though I devoured this book in just a few days, I truly did not want to put this book down. It is less than 300 pages long, but there is SO MUCH within these pages! Even now, as I think back on elements of the book I enjoyed, there are scenes that I remember being a part of the story that make me wonder how Newson was able to fit it all in such a short book. I would recommend this book to ANYONE, honestly! I've been asked by a few people, outside of the queer community, what queer books I would recommend for someone who would like to educate themselves more on the community as a whole, and this book has easily jumped into my top 5 of that category. Though this novel doesn't explore ALL aspects of the queer community, it does a fantastic job at discussing the specific nuances that queer people, and more importantly queer people of color, share (from the 1980's and FORWARD). This novel also, really beautifully, weaves in elements of truth and fact within its pages that allows for readers to anchor Trey's story in reality. All that to say, if you haven't yet read this book, I HIGHLY encourage you to do so! It's beautiful, it's funny, it's terrifying, it's heartbreaking, it's educational, it's uplifting, and it's REAL! SPOILER THOUGHTS: (view spoiler)[I wasn't the BIGGEST fan of the ending, at first, because I was failing to see why Trey would break Gregory's (his BEST FRIEND, a fellow gay, black man who is one of the only reasons that Trey was able to "make it on his own" in NYC) trust in order to prevent Angie (an older, lesbian, white woman with whom Trey worked) from going to prison for HER OWN actions (that Trey had ALREADY told her to stop). Angie, though well-intentioned, was murdering (it's not clear if it was euthanization, but I'd say that it wasn't because it lacked the consent of the patient or their next-of-kin (which I understand gets sloppy during the AIDS epidemic for MANY reasons)) men that were diagnosed with AIDS and trusted to her care unbeknownst to many. I know that Gregory was HIGHLY flawed as well, but Angie was committing MURDER... like, though it was "merciful" in her eyes, it's still murder; why would Trey choose to ruin his relationship with Gregory over Angie's actions coming to light? The only answer I could think of was: the patients. Trey says, early on in the novel, that Angie was one of the ONLY people working with black AIDS patients; many of the other volunteers didn't want people in their apartment buildings asking questions about black men entering their buildings. This act of Trey's at the end of the novel seems to signify an even larger development in Trey's character arc throughout the story: Community over the Self. We saw, throughout the novel, that Gregory was very focused on the individual; this lines up with his life and how he's had to navigate such trauma. However, Gregory remained stuck in those ways: racking up credit card debt to maintain the aesthetic of opulence; fucking older, wealthier, white men of power for money; refusing to protect himself (and others) against the risk of AIDS; etc. Trey recognized that he couldn't continue to put Gregory first when given the opportunity to make the world a better place for all. Trey was clinging to the selfish idea that Gregory would, one day, come to his senses and be with Trey romantically; the turning point was when Barney passed away and Gregory tried showing Trey love in the only way he knew how: sex. However, Trey couldn't act on all of those fantasies that he's had since meeting Gregory because of the weight of the battle for change in which Trey was fighting. After that moment, Trey realized the importance of standing up for the bettering of the community over the self; he knew that, without Angie, many queer, black men would die without the care they would need. He knew the importance of the movement for which he, Angie, Peter, and all of ACT UP were pushing forward. He understood that the price of losing Gregory as a friend was worth the good his decision would do for his community as a whole. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy Biggart

    Wow I loved this This book was so wonderful. A portrayal of a city struggling under a publicly unacknowledged pandemic, this is such a moving tale of one man’s movements through NYC’s gay scene in the 1980’s and how he begins to engage with AIDS activism. I loved the writing in this, I loved the footnotes and historical accuracy, but mostly I loved the characters. So much queer found family in this book, and a shocking plot twist toward the end. Highly recommend this one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    It's been a while since I've read something so magnificent. I'm certainly glad I have And The Band Played On in my repertoire with how history rich this read is. Even without that hefty read under my belt, the footnotes are so helpful when it comes to grasping historical significance of names/places/events. Though this is a heavy read loaded with death, illness, struggle, and much more, I will be buying this when it published and shoving it in everyone's face. I am absolutely shaken to my core. T It's been a while since I've read something so magnificent. I'm certainly glad I have And The Band Played On in my repertoire with how history rich this read is. Even without that hefty read under my belt, the footnotes are so helpful when it comes to grasping historical significance of names/places/events. Though this is a heavy read loaded with death, illness, struggle, and much more, I will be buying this when it published and shoving it in everyone's face. I am absolutely shaken to my core. This is currently my favorite read of 2022. Thank you thank you THANK YOU to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    Of the many, many things I found impressive about My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson I think I was most blown away by the author's ability to operate on multiple levels at once. At a simple glance the book is a coming of age story, of both Trey, our narrator and the country and city he inhabits.  Sprinkled throughout with various footnotes explaining the backstories and histories of the real life characters (many of them prominent historical figures) and places Trey finds himself a Of the many, many things I found impressive about My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson I think I was most blown away by the author's ability to operate on multiple levels at once. At a simple glance the book is a coming of age story, of both Trey, our narrator and the country and city he inhabits.  Sprinkled throughout with various footnotes explaining the backstories and histories of the real life characters (many of them prominent historical figures) and places Trey finds himself among I think in lesser hands this book would have come off way wayyy too much like a history lesson or even preachy but Newson avoids that by giving us a really gorgeous protagonist in Trey, who you can't help falling in love with and cheer for throughout the book. In a very unassuming way Trey finds himself suddenly caught up in what will inevitably one of the most important landmark times in LGBT history. In the eye of the hurricane that was the AIDS epidemic ravaging through New York City (and the country/world) in the late 80's. In sweeping the reader up in the emotional journey of Trey we are also witness to the unravelling of the city and the queer community. I loved seeing the city through Trey's eyes. I recognized so many aspects and experiences that I'd also shared as a young gay guy moving to the city at 19 (I laughed reading that even back then it really, at the end of the day,  came down to just having enough in your pocket to make rent) abut also this book totally illuminated me to places and characters in the city that I had never heard about or knew nothing of. I've often had to come back and break the ingrained image in my mind that the historical gay rights movement in New York or the AIDS epidemic was predominantly populated by exclusively white, blond faces when that couldn't be further from the truth. I was FASCINATED to read about the Mount Morris baths in Harlem (i mean THAT could've been a whole book unto itself and I'd've happily read it) the experience and contributions from black and latinX folks in both ACT UP and the GMHC.  But again, don't be put off by the historical aspect of this book, at it's core there is a very fun, juicy, tea filled story of this young man finding himself, looking for a sense of purpose and love in one of the few cities that opened that door to him in that time and I feel luckily to have witnessed Trey on his journey and will carry him with me for quite some time. 

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Narration was phenomenal- I loved Trey & I loved Gregory. So many characters to cherish. Rich with history (and footnotes to back) this book is so, so good. Especially for a debut novel. One of my top favorites for sure.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Lambert

    I’ve been waiting months to finally get my hands on this book. I can positively say I didn’t put it down, nor want to put it down. Wonderfully written, gut wrenching, a must read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    emma charlton

    Part historical fiction, part coming of age, this is one of those stories that just I got lost in. In the 1980s, Trey moves to New York at 17. He's still balancing the loss of his brother's disappearance as a kid, his existence as a gay Black man (he's still a minor, but presents himself as an adult when he can), and his new status in a city apart from his parents and their money. The novel follows Trey as he's introduced to bathhouses, home hospices filled with AIDS patients, and ACT UP initiat Part historical fiction, part coming of age, this is one of those stories that just I got lost in. In the 1980s, Trey moves to New York at 17. He's still balancing the loss of his brother's disappearance as a kid, his existence as a gay Black man (he's still a minor, but presents himself as an adult when he can), and his new status in a city apart from his parents and their money. The novel follows Trey as he's introduced to bathhouses, home hospices filled with AIDS patients, and ACT UP initiation and protests. This is a great book to read to get a real and personal understanding of historical events in the 80s while still following characters that you can't help but care about and cry for. I listened to the audiobook through NetGalley (which I highly recommend) but the physical copy has footnotes expanding on the historical context and references used throughout.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    A masterpiece! This book reads like a fictional memoir and it's so beautifully told. The story is centered around Trey, a gay Black man in the 80s enduring the AIDs epidemic. It's a coming of age story that focuses on activism, community, family, love, and acceptance in a gorgeous way that pays homage to real life moments and figures in history. It's a fast-paced read and I loved listening to the audiobook narration - such a treat! A masterpiece! This book reads like a fictional memoir and it's so beautifully told. The story is centered around Trey, a gay Black man in the 80s enduring the AIDs epidemic. It's a coming of age story that focuses on activism, community, family, love, and acceptance in a gorgeous way that pays homage to real life moments and figures in history. It's a fast-paced read and I loved listening to the audiobook narration - such a treat!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nic Ojo (bujos_n_books)

    Reads like a memoir! A refreshing historical fiction that transported me to the times of those in the queer community living in America at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Watching Trey evolve from caring only about himself to caring for others was heartwarming. The ending snuck up on me and I hated for this journey to come to an end. I look forward to more works from this author. Thank you Flat Iron and NetGalley for this e-ARC.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    [4.5 stars] Like Dorothy stepping into Oz, we follow 17-year-old Earl “Trey” Singleton as he arrives on a life-changing adventure in New York City. While born into a well-heeled and respectable family, he needs to flee his oppressive parents and close-minded life in Indianapolis to live openly as a Black gay man. He quickly finds, however, that activism needs to be as important as his carnal pleasures. From leading a rent strike to coming face-to-face with a bathhouse serial killer and becoming [4.5 stars] Like Dorothy stepping into Oz, we follow 17-year-old Earl “Trey” Singleton as he arrives on a life-changing adventure in New York City. While born into a well-heeled and respectable family, he needs to flee his oppressive parents and close-minded life in Indianapolis to live openly as a Black gay man. He quickly finds, however, that activism needs to be as important as his carnal pleasures. From leading a rent strike to coming face-to-face with a bathhouse serial killer and becoming an early volunteer with ACT UP, Newson places Trey in real situations with real people - some with significant roles in the narrative, like Bayard Rustin and Larry Kramer. While many other reviewers have stated that it reads like a memoir, the happenings are far too convenient for that to be the case. Still, this was a fresh take on New York City in the 1980s. It’s not the usual AIDS novel – one focused on either saviorism or hopelessness – it’s primarily a social justice novel showing what different minority groups had to do to survive in dirty and corrupt New York and the conservative United States. Alternately thought provoking and entertaining, “Government” seems destined for the screen, which isn’t surprising since Newson is a television writer. This writing is more tell than describe, which usually bothers me, except the dialogue here is quick and the action is meaningful. Some of this was aided by Jelani Alladin’s fantastic narration. He had a lot of fun with the material and infused personality into each character – both factual and fictional. You could tell he was having fun with Trey, his roommate and best friend, Gregory, and real-life people, such as Rustin and Fred Trump. He also navigated some blush-inducing scenes in the bathhouse with seductive flair that at times made this a little steamy. However, I learned from other reviews that a physical copy may be the way to go. Newson packed the text with footnotes that provide historical context and that was missing during my listen. A few times I Googled characters or events for more background, and it would’ve been easier to know upfront what was an amalgamation versus genuine. This would be a great hybrid read/listen. My only complaints are that it ends too abruptly (it really needs an epilogue after the explosive last chapter) and it lacked some emotional depth. Still, this is a riveting, graphic and unflinching view of the not-too-distant past that’s still tailored for the masses. Put it on your radar for Pride Month 2023 (if not sooner). It deserves a wide audience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raegan

    -Disclaimer: I received this book for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.- DNF "I'm no necrophiliac, but damn did Walton look handsome". @44% Wtf is wrong with people? "Fred Trump planned to allow enough units to fall behind on rent to justify a mass eviction. Opening the door to a renovation and massive rent hike that only new, wealthy, and let's face it, white tenants could afford". @34% You don't let someone fall behind on rent. Rich people don't care where the money is coming -Disclaimer: I received this book for free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.- DNF "I'm no necrophiliac, but damn did Walton look handsome". @44% Wtf is wrong with people? "Fred Trump planned to allow enough units to fall behind on rent to justify a mass eviction. Opening the door to a renovation and massive rent hike that only new, wealthy, and let's face it, white tenants could afford". @34% You don't let someone fall behind on rent. Rich people don't care where the money is coming from as long as they get paid. -The author read the book like it wasn't his. He listed events quickly and in a flat tone. -There were lots of people. I never seemed to get a gist of who was who. -The writing was sometimes confusing & jumpy. I like the unique cover. But all-in-all, the execution of this was not good.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby Tait

    I can’t believe this is a debut. It’s exceptional. It’s hard to believe this isn’t a memoir. It is very well-researched, but also written beautifully. I really loved the footnotes that provided more context and information to the people, places, organizations and events referenced in the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lexy

    My Government Means to Kill Me is a raw, unflinching coming of age story that is currently living rent-free in my head. This book is fiction, but it’s written as a memoir and is highly believable as one. Trey, the son of wealthy parents from Indianapolis, rejects all financial support and moves to NYC at 17 to make his way on his own. He’s young, Black, poor, gay, and living in the 80s during the AIDS crisis. Trey is a character that will stay with me. He’s brave and clever, but also so young and My Government Means to Kill Me is a raw, unflinching coming of age story that is currently living rent-free in my head. This book is fiction, but it’s written as a memoir and is highly believable as one. Trey, the son of wealthy parents from Indianapolis, rejects all financial support and moves to NYC at 17 to make his way on his own. He’s young, Black, poor, gay, and living in the 80s during the AIDS crisis. Trey is a character that will stay with me. He’s brave and clever, but also so young and often naïve. He is wonderfully (and sometimes terrifyingly) open to new experiences, and he builds a supporting cast full of interesting characters. I learned so much from this book. As Trey connects with real historical figures and lives through real historical moments, the author includes footnotes that give additional information. My Government Means to Kill Me covers heavy topics like AIDS, hospice care, homophobia, and activism, but it is not all dark. Trey lives through hard things, but he also experiences joy and love and excitement as he builds a new life on his terms. I don’t think this will be for every reader because of lots of explicit sex scenes. But readers open to seeing the raw truth of this time period will get a lot from this propulsive novel. I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars Release date: August 23, 2022 Big thanks to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the e-arc for review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    In “My Government Means To Kill Me”, author Rasheed Newson writes about the intersection of gay and black identities in 1980s New York City. Our young protagonist is 18, newly arrived in the NYC from Indianapolis, the son of well-off black political movers and shakers in the Democratic party, finding his identity in gay bathhouses while surviving hand-to-mouth, having become estranged from his family. His journey takes him to the bathhouse scene where he meets an aging Civil Rights activist who In “My Government Means To Kill Me”, author Rasheed Newson writes about the intersection of gay and black identities in 1980s New York City. Our young protagonist is 18, newly arrived in the NYC from Indianapolis, the son of well-off black political movers and shakers in the Democratic party, finding his identity in gay bathhouses while surviving hand-to-mouth, having become estranged from his family. His journey takes him to the bathhouse scene where he meets an aging Civil Rights activist who becomes a black gay mentor, and eventually he becomes part of Larry Kramer’s ACT UP, protesting the government and pharmaceutical companies handling of the health crisis. Along the way he learns that he brings something to the table – his own unique value – and his need for mentorship decreases as he discovers his own role, his own voice, his personal moral code, as an activist. Newson is primarily a television writer, and this is his debut novel. I am not familiar with the shows he’s written – although they are now on my radar to discover. I was drawn to this novel because the time is past due for an exploration of the black gay experience in NYC and during the AIDS crisis of the 80s. So much of what has been written and portrayed is focused on the white cis gay male experience, as was most of the LGBT civil rights movement of the last 40 years. Shows like “Pose” began to change the lens from which the greater community viewed these events and I’m glad to see other artists taking up the call. I appreciate that Newson’s writing style is unambiguous and fearless. Gay sex, relationships, couplings, fears, desires, strengths, and weaknesses are all depicted in an unflinching and unapologetic way. He’s not here to code anything to protect the tastes of middle-America book clubs. There was, however, a certain lyrical quality that was missing. That “thing” that makes a novel transcendent. I got the grit but didn’t get a lot of the beauty. I think is partly due to the novel’s chapters seeming like they were separate episodes of a television series. A show I would probably binge-watch, but still something needing flesh and blood actors on screen to really transform the story into a fully human experience. While I appreciate the directness of the writing, there is something special about the novel as an art form – a poetic or lyrical quality – that I didn’t quite get from this. Younger readers (younger as in 20’s or 30’s, rather than 40’s or 50’s+) may find this to be one of the strengths of the book as they are accustomed to consuming episodic things. Likewise, a reader’s age may effect on how they respond to the structure of the book. This novel is written as if it was the narrator’s memoir. This is not a device that I particularly love, although I don’t hate it either. What I distinctly don’t like, and hope this trend goes away, is the use of footnotes or endnotes in a piece of fiction, giving me lots and lots of additional information. It’s entirely overused in this book and while it is sometimes valuable, it is often unnecessary, and almost always interrupts the flow of the story. The mash-up of non-fiction with a novel just never works for me. I would rather the information be folded organically into the writing, or just left for the reader to investigate on their own. A reader’s overall enjoyment of the story may depend on how much you know of this time period and the events of the LGBT movement of the 80s. I have read and watched quite a lot, so some of this was revisiting ground that has been covered. But seeing it from the eyes of the gay black narrator does give it a different focus. There were more than a few instances where I stopped and considered something I never had before – such as the effect it would have on a black protestor to see a mannequin being hung in effigy by a mob. How the visceral reaction that would stir in him was different than what his white friends were experiencing. It is in moments like that you can see the valuable contribution being made to LGBT literature, and to all of American history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    Rasheed Newson has written an addictive narration of the life of a young, gay Black man in the midst of the AIDs crisis in the NYC of the mid-eighties. Eighteen year old Trey, our narrator, has landed in NYC without a friend or any prospects, and we follow his journey from naïve newcomer to fierce fighter, activist, and true New Yorker over the course of a whirlwind two years. Newson does not shy away from Trey's frank and joyous sexuality, and shows us gay bathhouse culture with countless anony Rasheed Newson has written an addictive narration of the life of a young, gay Black man in the midst of the AIDs crisis in the NYC of the mid-eighties. Eighteen year old Trey, our narrator, has landed in NYC without a friend or any prospects, and we follow his journey from naïve newcomer to fierce fighter, activist, and true New Yorker over the course of a whirlwind two years. Newson does not shy away from Trey's frank and joyous sexuality, and shows us gay bathhouse culture with countless anonymous encounters and colorful characters. I will admit that when I picked up this book, I forgot that it had been labelled as fiction, and read it as I would a memoir- all the small historical details didn't deter me from this notion. With that in mind, I felt the ending was altogether too abrupt. After realizing it had been a novel all along, however, I think it wrapped up nicely. It left me with a sense of hope for Trey, and a curiosity about all the things he has yet to encounter in the fullness of time. I would welcome a sequel. I received this advance reader copy of the audio-book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Grace Burke

    So powerful. I learned so much in these 273 pages, more than I have, I feel, in my lifetime. Rasheed Newson tells a beautiful fictional story about a Black gay boy named Trey, surrounded by historical happenings and unforgettable resisters. I’m honestly speechless by how much this book made me feel- scared, devastated, hopeless and hopeful, excited, and safe. This book, our history is not for the faint of heart. Rasheed Newson, through Trey, as well as Angie and Simon and Rustin and the countles So powerful. I learned so much in these 273 pages, more than I have, I feel, in my lifetime. Rasheed Newson tells a beautiful fictional story about a Black gay boy named Trey, surrounded by historical happenings and unforgettable resisters. I’m honestly speechless by how much this book made me feel- scared, devastated, hopeless and hopeful, excited, and safe. This book, our history is not for the faint of heart. Rasheed Newson, through Trey, as well as Angie and Simon and Rustin and the countless other brothers and sisters who we exist on the shoulders of, illustrates the ACT up movement fraught with sacrifices and loss and resilience, in such a beautiful manner. This is truly a must read. Definitely in my top 3 of 2022 thus far.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jill Reads

    Fascinating debut fiction that reads just like a memoir. I devoured this fast-paced audiobook in under 24 hours. It is so well-written by Rasheed Newson and the narration by actor Jellani Alladin is impeccable. Don't let the title throw you off. This is a fabulous read as is evident by the sensatitional reviews. Note: It is not for the lighthearted. From a NYT review: The purported author of this annotated memoir is Earl Singleton III, a.k.a. “Trey,” a gay Black teenager who has run away from a we Fascinating debut fiction that reads just like a memoir. I devoured this fast-paced audiobook in under 24 hours. It is so well-written by Rasheed Newson and the narration by actor Jellani Alladin is impeccable. Don't let the title throw you off. This is a fabulous read as is evident by the sensatitional reviews. Note: It is not for the lighthearted. From a NYT review: The purported author of this annotated memoir is Earl Singleton III, a.k.a. “Trey,” a gay Black teenager who has run away from a wealthy home in Indiana. The year is 1985. The destination is New York City, where the AIDS epidemic is rampant. Trey has turned his back on a trust fund in order to make his own way...

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...