Some Strange Music Draws Me In by Griffin Hansbury

Past and present meet in this beautiful and stirring exploration of adolescence, ageing and queerness by novelist Griffin Hansbury

Book Review by Andrés Ordorica | 22 Apr 2024
  • Some Strange Music Draws Me In by Griffin Hansbury
Book title: Some Strange Music Draws Me In
Author: Griffin Hansbury

Some Strange Music Draws Me In is a beautiful exploration of adolescence and ageing. Narrated by Max, a transgender man nearing 40, who has returned to his small town in Massachusetts to deal with his mother’s passing, this soulful coming-of-age story is contemplative, funny and harrowing. 

As Max goes through photos, records and other memorabilia scattered around his childhood bedroom, he is transported back to a past he no longer recognises, one at odds with his present day. Max’s life is a mess. On forced leave from work to undergo sensitivity training after being accused of transphobia by a cisgender student, he is at a crossroads.

Most of the novel follows the slow burning days of summer break as experienced by Mel, Max’s pre-transition self – a naïve and listless teenager, as she meets a mysterious cipher in the form of Sylvia. Together they explore what it means to live authentically in a town that tries so hard to destroy any individuality or joy. Sylvia will be a catalyst for Mel’s own transgender awakening, but it is through small moments listening to the vinyl records of Patti Smith, or driving around town in Sylvia’s beat-up Trans Am, in which the heart of this story truly comes alive. 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. 

Daunt Books, 25 Apr