It’s summer, 1984, in blue-collar Swaffham, Massachusetts. Mel is thirteen, drinking a Slush Puppie at the drugstore, when she hears a voice, ‘deep and movie-star dramatic, like Lauren Bacall’: Sylvia.
Sylvia’s shameless swagger and tough-girl trans femininity sparks fury among her new neighbours and throws Mel into conflict with her mother and her best friend. But it is also a catalyst for Mel. She comes to realise that not only is there a world beyond Swaffham, there are other ways of being.
Narrating this blistering coming-of-age tale from 2019 is Max – formerly Mel – who is on leave from his job for defying speech codes around trans identity. Back in Swaffham, he must navigate life as part of a fractured family and face his own role in the disasters of the past.
Some Strange Music Draws Me In is a compassionate, gripping and emotionally charged narrative, peopled by an unforgettable cast of characters bound in electrifying relationships. Griffin Hansbury’s elegant and fearless prose dares to explore taboos around gender and class as he offers a deeply moving portrait of friendship, family and a girlhood lived sideways. A timely and captivating narrative of self-realisation amid the everyday violence of small-town intolerance, Some Strange Music Draws Me In builds to an explosive conclusion, illuminating the unexpected ways that difference can provide a ticket to liberation.
‘An uncompromising excavation of a transmasc adolescence.’ Lauren John Joseph
‘This gorgeous, propulsive novel is filled with beauty and danger, youth and wisdom and the life-saving lifelines of counterculture. With writing so tense and honest and real, I recognised this place and these people deeply, and felt them all in my heart long after the book was finished.’ Michelle Tea
‘Some Strange Music Draws Me In is luminous, propulsive, tender, and full of light. Hansbury’s prose is both scathing and soulful, delivered with care and grace and aplomb. This novel’s warmth is palpable, and Hansbury has crafted a truly rare thing – a gift and a guide.’ Bryan Washington
‘Some Strange Music Draws Me In is a beautiful exploration of adolescence and aging. Filled with the lingering echoes of a former self, Hansbury has created a rich portrayal of moving forward in all life’s messy glory while wrangling with a painful past. Max and Mel will leave you reeling with emotion, transformed and hopeful. Like a good song, this is a novel that will play on your mind for years to come, humming brightly and freely.’ Andrés N. Ordorica
‘Some Strange Music Draws Me In is a story of how latent queerness can point toward the exit from poverty and despair. It’s about inter-generational queer care, about how even with a clean getaway we nurse our wounded pasts . . . a book filled with compassion.’ McKenzie Wark
‘Sharp, perceptive . . . There are no easy answers in Hansbury’s bracing narrative.’ Publishers Weekly
This funny, defiant, and passionate novel will make you want to play Patti Smith’s Horses at full volume . . . The coming-of-age, reckoning-with-gender story we have all needed for decades, the kind that can change and save your life.’ James Hannaham
‘It’s tough and sweet and smart about the places we come from and how we fight and flail to discover ourselves inside them. Griffin Hansbury has achingly captured the miracle of queer generations seeing and saving each other, without hiding the real struggle to connect across generations, our different times and traumas. A gorgeous novel.’ CJ Hauser
‘A touchstone LGBTQIA+ coming-of-age novel containing superbly drawn characters, a brilliant story, and knowing prose.’ Starred Booklist review