This is not intended to be a history lesson, however, the story behind JT LeRoy is very interesting and what led me to read two of her books. The author shows us an edge of society I would otherwise be blind to. Though a fictional story, I can see where these situations could be real. A teenage mother who is mentally ill, abusive and an addict sets the stage for a torturous and gritty life. Her name is Sarah, and her son is Jeremiah, and these two characters will remain with me for the rest of my life.
I recommend starting with The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (yellow book), and then following it with Sarah (blue book). Both are shorter reads, Sarah is more of a novella in length. Each book takes us through a gut-twisting tale of survival, and psychosis. Sarah’s mothering skills are the worst I’ve ever read. Despite the torture she puts her son through, she loves him. Or at least she feels as though she needs him, and to him, that translates to love. Even when they are not together she drags him back in, and he wants to be with her. Puzzling, sad, frustrating, they make a family.
If this book should have ever trigger warning possible: drug use, sexual abuse, violence, strong language, self-harm, disturbing images.
The second book, Sarah has the same ingredients as the first, though it focuses on Jeremiah, despite the title of the book. He wants to follow in her footsteps and become a truck stop hooker (lot lizard). His quest for recognization and status sends him on a strange and sad journey. The rise and fall from grace are captured well by the author.
The author poses as JT LeRoy, however, her true identity is someone named Laura Albert. Attempting to pass the stories off as a collection of essays from real events, the media became obsessed with JT LeRoy who stayed out of the spotlight. Later, Albert hired a female actress to play JT LeRoy for public appearances. That alone is interesting, JT stands for Jerimiah Terminator, a male persona. A movie was going to be made based on the book Sarah, however, when it was discovered that the author was using a fake identity, things went down quickly and Laura Albert was sued. The stories were fiction. Reading up on the scandal got confusing, so I may have something not quite right here.
There are follow up books and an autobiography written by the woman who pretends to be JT LeRoy for nearly six years. I hope to read that and watch the movie released earlier this year with Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern.
If you like a gritty read that will leave you wanting to shower after each chapter, this book is for you. I need to read something a little lighter after these two! But I enjoyed them and gave them five stars on Goodreads.