Alyssa Abbott’s memoir sheds light on Bay Area life in the 1980s

“FairyLand” by Alyssa Abbott is a memoir that follows the life of her and her father through her own memories, and a series of entries from her fathers diary. Set in San Francisco during the 1980s, we follow Alyssa who is growing up with a single gay father named Steve Abott. Fairyland follows Alyssa as she moves from Georgia to California, dealing with her fathers new found sexual identity and relationships, and learning to become a woman without many female role models. It also describes her father Steve, and how he navigates his career as a poet, organizes for gay rights, agonizes over what is best for his daughter, Alyssa, and deals with the impending AIDS epidemic plaguing gay men. The fact that Alyssa chose to intertwine her fathers personal writing along with his poetry with her own perspective adds nuance and a different viewpoint from the author’s own perception of certain events. The book explores themes of unconditional love, sacrificing for your family, and coming of age. What I found particularly entertaining about this book is how it paints a picture of the Bay Area during the 1980s. It is interesting to notice how much our community has changed since her childhood. Beyond that, her anecdotes were exciting, often leaving me anxious to turn the page. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy learning about the history of civil rights or the Bay Area, or coming of age stories.

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