Meet Julie Thatch, the teenage protagonist of Jeanne Thornton’s debut novel, The Dream of Doctor Bantam. Julie is seventeen, an angst-filled teenager coping with the untimely death of her beloved older sister while uncovering the wild world of sexuality and love.

The Dream of Doctor Bantam opens with a flashback, Julie and her sister Tabitha out late one night at IHOP, and then moves forward to the novel’s present time, which begins the day after Tabitha is killed while running headlong (and naked) into an oncoming car. The novel follows Julie’s coming-of-age in the year after Tabitha’s death—without giving everything away, Julie experiments and uncovers her sexuality, falls in love with a girl named Patrice, starts smoking, drops out of high school, gets her first job, and more – but don’t expect a pat, generic ending. In fact, don’t expect anything pat or generic at all out of this book. It’s full of strange plot twists and struggles, it teeters on the edge between dream and reality, it’s gut-wrenching and will make you wince and roll your eyes and wonder if your own coming-of-age was quite so fraught (and you’ll realize it was). It’s funny and sad without trying too hard, and more than anything else, it’s honest.

Read the full review on Lambda Literary

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