Happy Independence Day by Michael Rupured

janetted's review

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4.5 stars

the_novel_approach's review

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Happy Independence Day is the first book I’ve read by Michael Rupured. I’m looking forward to more, especially to After Christmas Eve which isn’t really a prequel to this one, more of a co-story. It is the in-depth back-story to Happy Independence Day. The story takes place in New York City one steamy June weekend in 1969. The main character of the book? One Stonewall Inn. Yes, that Stonewall Inn.

Reading this book was like traveling back through history to get an eyewitness view of the events that shaped LGBT history. I’m honestly (and ashamedly) not real clear on the true historical details of the famous Stonewall Uprising, the very riots that this story is centered around. I do know that those riots were the inspiration for modern day Pride celebrations worldwide

It was fascinating to read the story in context. By today’s standards much of what was said and done in this story would be offensive, but it’s not today in Happy Independence Day, it’s the end of the 1960s and everything is changing before our eyes. Mr. Rupured is able to take us back in time to experience all the sights and sounds of the time. His exceptional details and imagery make the characters as well as the setting come to life for the reader. It feels so real, genuine.

It was great to look back at such a pivotal time in American and LGBTQ history and see it through the lens of what we now know. That’s one reason I chose the quote above to represent the book. It is perfect because it’s funny but also because it’s ironic that the opinion of the time was so far off the mark. In another way, it’s alarming, because have women come as far as African-Americans in the last 45 years? I’ll not start that debate but leave it to you to think about.

This story is about a family of sorts, and their adventures on that fateful weekend. The people they come in contact with, from Kreema the drag queen to Terrence’s love interest, Cameron, who is evidently a prostitute for the mafia. The cast is varied and interesting and cool and just plain fun.

This is primarily Terrence’s story, but the holiday mentioned in the title is almost as central to the plot as Terrence and his relationship with Cameron. Mr. Rupured has written a story of romance, civil unrest, and independence. All of the characters we meet are fighting for their own freedom of one type or another. We see Harold, a recent high school graduate who’s ready to take on the world and pursue his dream to become a stylist and makeup artist, a profession that barely existed then; Harold’s BFF Abigail wondering what’s next for her life; Cameron wanting desperately to break free from the lifestyle he was forced into; and even Philip and George (the ‘adults’ in the story) are trying to find their roles as gay men in a society that is changing so fast it’s impossible to keep up with it.

There was a lot going on in Happy Independence Day, all of it well written and entertaining. And as a bonus feature, for someone who was born in the 60s, it causes a lovely stirring of memories. World and local events, the details of which may have been forgotten, are brought back to mind while reading about them through the eyes of these fascinating characters. I’m amazed at how far we, as a society, have come. I’m saddened that we, as a society, have so very far yet to go.