Book review: Hideous Beauty by William Hussey

Hideous Beauty is a mystery about young love, trauma and being queer. Trigger warning – it’s heart wrenching, covers some challenging issues and will most likely make you cry.

Truth is dull and frightening and soul destroying. Art is about the wonderful lies we tell ourselves so we can bear to live the truth.

Dylan is forced to come out before he is ready after a video of him having sex with his boyfriend El goes viral. They decide to get on the front foot and got to the school dance together. It goes surprisingly well and Dylan thinks he has found happiness in being able to be himself with Ellis. Dylan’s euphoria is short lived when El starts behaving strangely, becomes angry and withdrawn. Driving home from the school dance Ellis loses control of the car and the two boys crash into a lake – Dylan is pulled from the car, but Ellis drowns. A grief stricken Dylan vows to find out why his rescuer left Ellis in the car.

We all wanted El to be something he could never be. And we thought us wanting that was somehow acceptable, but it’s not. It’s not about El fitting into some idea of what he should be. Tolerance isn’t conditional. It’s absolute.

A beautiful and sensitive account of first love, coming out, high school politics, illness, grief, and the effects of trauma. Reading it was an emotional roller coaster – and it did make me cry.