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I Have Something to Tell You says all the right things

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Chasten Buttigieg — Photo by Carina Teoh
Chasten Buttigieg — Photo by Carina Teoh

Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster  

I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU (for young adults)
(c) 2023 Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
209 pages

If you'd have asked eight-year-old Chasten Glezman (now Buttigieg) what his life was like, he probably would've told you about his big brothers and how wild and daring they were. He would've said he didn't have many friends but that he loved his parents. He wouldn't have told you about being Gay, though, because he had no frame of reference, no experience, or role models. He just knew then that he was "different."

A year later, he watched Will & Grace on TV for the first time, and it was hilarious. But he had to be careful. Already, he understood that being someone "like that" had to be hidden. He was sure that Gay people weren't found in places like his Northern Michigan hometown.

For much of his childhood, Buttigieg was bullied, he says, but being lonely was worse. He was awkward, but he found his happy place in theater.

"In school," he says, "I felt a constant tug-of-war between where I was and where I wanted to be," between authenticity and pretending.

A year as a high school exchange student in Gay-friendly Germany, then a "safe space" in college in Wisconsin clarified many things and helped him gain confidence and "broaden [his] perspective."

By the time he met the man he calls Peter, "I felt at ease to present myself in ways I hadn't felt comfortable doing."

Still, he says, things may be better or they may be worse. "We've got a long way to go, but you, the reader, get to be a part of that promising future."

Filled with an abundance of dad jokes and a casual, chatty tone that never once feels pushy or overbearing, I Have Something to Tell You may seem like déjà vu, and for good reason. This gently altered version of his 2020 memoir, meant for kids ages 12 and up, says all the right things in a surprisingly paternal way.

And yet none of it's preachy, or even stern.

Though there are brief peeks at his adult life on the campaign trail with his husband, now Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, the heart of the book is all memoir, set in a loving household in a small town. It's lightly humorous but not trite; to this, Buttigieg adds a layer of subtle advice, and genuineness to a tale that's familiar to adults and will appeal to young, still-figuring-it-out teens.

You can expect a "you are not alone" message in a book like this, but it comes with an upbeat, fatherly calm. For a teen who needs that, reading I Have Something to Tell You will be a good experience.