Book Reviews

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw // Book Review


In the spirit of the author’s massively popular Twitter thread, Tucker Shaw’s When You Call My Name is a heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York City in 1990 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Named “this summer’s most powerful LGBTQ+ novel” by GAY TIMES, this book is perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H. K. Choi.

Film fanatic Adam is seventeen and being asked out on his first date—and the guy is cute. Heart racing, Adam accepts, quickly falling in love with Callum like the movies always promised.

Fashion-obsessed Ben is eighteen and has just left his home upstate after his mother discovers his hidden stash of gay magazines. When he comes to New York City, Ben’s sexuality begins to feel less like a secret and more like a badge of honor.

Then Callum disappears, leaving Adam heartbroken, and Ben finds out his new world is more closed-minded than he thought. When Adam finally tracks Callum down, he learns the guy he loves is very ill. And in a chance meeting near the hospital where Callum is being treated, Ben and Adam meet, forever changing each other’s lives. As both begin to open their eyes to the possibilities of queer love and life, they realize sometimes the only people who can help you are the people who can really see you—in all your messy glory.

A love letter to New York and the liberating power of queer friendship, When You Call My Name is a hopeful novel about the pivotal moments of our youth that break our hearts and the people who help us put them back together.



A heartbreaking story of the early 1990s HIV/AIDs crisis that hit New York, told by an author who was there to see it happen. I loved that this captured a snapshot of life for Queer people when New York was finding it’s feet in the new decade, while still feeling the effects of the 1980s.

I liked the contrast of Adam and Ben, while they were both gay male teenagers, the epidemic hit Adam much harder, as the people around him started to disappear. While Ben is more of an observer, seeing people around him being affected by it, but not having it affect him personally.

I also liked that the story had two different paths for Adam and Ben, but they kept bumping into each other as they started their adult lives, before connecting with each other later in the story. It was an interesting picture, seeing hospital beds and quiet apartments on Adams side, but the fast moving world of fashion on Ben’s.

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments!

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