Josy Erickson knows his big break is just around the corner. All right, he doesn’t know that, but he really hopes it will be. Aside from starring in a herpes commercial, Josy’s film career isn’t exactly notable. And if he has to keep working at Applebee’s, he might just go insane. On the surface, Josy isn’t the brightest bulb, but he’s loyal, loving, and shockingly good at radio trivia. Which is how he wins two tickets to see the author Q-Bert read from one of his latest books. Josy doesn’t have a clue who Q-Bert is, but he attends the reading with his normal sense of adventure.
Crippled by anxiety, Quincy Moore finds it hard to step out of his comfort zone, even when it means greeting his ardent fans. They love his books, but more importantly, they love the supportive community he fosters online. So when he meets the Josy, Quincy is a bit stunned. And even more stunned when he ends up casting Josy in his first movie. Hipster and stoner he may be, but Josy’s ability to love unconditionally gives Quincy the strength to make his film debut, despite his anxiety and fear. Love comes in all shapes and sizes and for Quincy and Josy it will involve monster porn, blanket forts, and a familiar ferret named Harry S. Truman.
I think one of the reasons I love T.J. Klune’s books are because his work embodies that amazing quote by Lin Manuel-Miranda, “Love is love is love…” Klune writes about love in all its wide and varied forms, without a one size fits all agenda, and he does it with his trademark humor and emotional depth. And How to Be A Movie Star is another fantastic book. It’s a sequel of sorts to How to Be A Normal Person and while I suppose you could read one without the other, it will make more sense if you read them in order. All the folks from Abby, Oregon are back, including the irascible Gustavo Tiberius, his devoted boyfriend Casey, the We Three Queens, and all the others that made How to Be A Normal Person such a fun read. But the focus of this story is Josy and Quincy. Josy isn’t stupid, but nor is he going to end up working as a rocket scientist (he thinks Wichita is in Canada). And that’s okay, because he’s so comfortable in his own skin it’s impossible not to like him. He’s wonderfully absurd and a bit nutty, but there is such truth in him, he feels completely relatable. Quincy is a little harder to know as a character, but this too seems believable. With his anxiety and natural shyness, he’s occasionally overpowered by Josy, though not necessarily in a bad way. They mesh not because they’re perfect or infallible, but because they accept one another without seeking validation for themselves.
Josy is a demisexual, which means he doesn’t develop or experience sexual attraction without having a strong emotional bond first. One of the reasons I like Klune is that he offers up characters outside of the traditional LGBT spectrum and reminds his readers that being asexual or demisexual or however else a person might identify isn’t weird or odd, it’s just a different way of loving. And that love is never a bad thing. That message is huge in this day and age as we struggle with tolerance and open mindedness.
I think the biggest reason Klune continues to succeed as an author is his ability to cut to the quick of what it means to be human. He understands the broken, beautiful mess that we all are and that strikes a serious chord with most readers. His humor is irreverent and biting and when coupled with his ability to highlight big emotional truths, it creates works of real joy. How to Be A Movie Star and it’s quirky cast are just another example of how love, in all its forms, is really one of the best parts of what we can give to one another.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.