Boys Keep Swinging

Long before starring as Charlie Price in Broadway's 2018 production of Kinky Boots and prior to fronting the bombshell rock band Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears was a scrawny kid from Arizona who answered to the name Jason Sellards. His road to stardom was a rocky path that required no small amount of confidence and determination. Fortunately for Shears, he was born with a knack for both.

Boys Keep Swinging opens with a thoroughly endearing portrait of young Jason, oozing showmanship at every turn. His fate is sealed, though, on the day of his fourth-grade tap performance debut, when his pet rabbit dies and he must dance through the pain. Later, Shears finds an accidental mentor in relationship expert Dan Savage--who, with his husband, looked after teenaged Jason once he came out to his Christian parents--and an eventual champion for his music in Elton John. Chasing dreams from Seattle to New York City, and then worldwide, Shears displays an admirable, if grueling, sense of commitment to performing. His passion, though, comes with its share of sacrifices: broken friendships, burnt bridges and a looming depression also populate the glamorous Oz of stardom.

Scissor Sisters fans will need to look elsewhere for the group's career arc beyond their irresistible 2006 single "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'." What Shears presents instead is an exhilarating yet poignant account of one boy taking flight. And he is just as clever a narrator as he is a lyricist, keenly sketching the gay bars and nightclubs that fostered the electroclash scene in which the band spawned. Boys Keep Swinging is an absolute joy, even for those who don't feel like dancing. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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