LGBTQ advice columnist John Paul Brammer delivers an earnest and quick-witted memoir with stories about his life, from growing up in rural Oklahoma and being bullied in middle school to moving to New York City and finding his voice. ¡Hola Papi! has that fresh memoir experience where each chapter is a response to a reader's question. Reading this was like being invited in and staying a while; there was a connectedness I felt while reading about JP’s experiences, whether it was being able to relate to growing up mixed race and not speaking Spanish or commiserating with him as meets “the one.” Do yourself a favor and luxuriate in the warmth of each chapter.— Jen Steele
Each chapter of ¡Hola Papi! begins with John Paul (JP) asking an important question, followed by a story that describes his personal path to an answer. This is fitting given that JP stumbled into writing an advice column, and quickly surprised himself by giving solid advice drawn from years of irrepressible self-examination. Growing up in small-town Oklahoma at the bottom of the pecking order gave him empathy for outsiders. High school in a larger town proved he could build his identity from inside-out instead, instead of having it defined from outside-in. In college he stumbled through awkward and uncomfortable gay experiences before finding successful ways to move easily through the gay world. JP found a large, needy audience ready to gobble up his advice on such issues. Alas, PJ’s memoir also depicts a society that still contains a staunchly anti-LGBTQ faction. While there is progress, the US sadly has a long way to go to achieve full acceptance and integration of LGBTQ individuals.— Kay Wosewick
John Paul Brammer's voice is everything I've been looking for in the many essay collections I've picked up in the last couple of years. Simply put, Brammer's voice is fantastic. He is self-aware in a rare way that allows for the wittiest and most truthful of observations on life, relationships, one's own history, and the world, without crossing into the self-indulgent or self-deprecating. Although, I think he'd say I was giving him too much credit (but I'd wholeheartedly disagree). The essays in ¡Hola Papi! come together to compose a glimpse into the many different phases of Brammer's life, stitching together his coming of age as a gay Mexican boy growing up in rural Oklahoma to the many triumphs and tribulations of life as a gay man across the country and world. As a reader I felt like I was growing up alongside Brammer as he came to reckon with his self, his identities, his past, and his own actions. His own acceptance of the many parts of himself, the many experiences that culminate to make him who he is today, gives me hope and faith. I had to keep sticky notes next to me while I was reading, something I rarely do, to make sure I was saving passages to come back to. Passages that so concisely put into words things I've felt and thought, but so much more beautifully than I could have imagined saying myself. And passages that will stick with me and encourage me to grow. And what marks a better read that something that fundamentally changes the way you think, makes you want to grow, and excites you to see how you too will change and develop in the years to come?— Parker Jensen
LGBTQ advice columnist John Paul Brammer writes a “wise and charming” (David Sedaris) memoir-in-essays chronicling his journey from a queer, mixed-race kid in America’s heartland to becoming the “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation.
“A master class of tone and tenderness.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Should be required reading.” —Los Angeles Times
The first time someone called John Paul (JP) Brammer “Papi” was on the gay hookup app Grindr. At first, it was flattering; JP took this as white-guy speak for “hey, handsome.” But then it happened again and again…and again, leaving JP wondering: Who the hell is Papi?
Soon, this racialized moniker became the inspiration for his now wildly popular advice column “¡Hola Papi!,” launching his career as the Cheryl Strayed for young queer people everywhere—and some straight people too. JP had his doubts at first—what advice could he really offer while he himself stumbled through his early twenties? Sometimes the best advice comes from looking within, which is what JP does in his column and book—and readers have flocked to him for honest, heartfelt wisdom, and more than a few laughs.
In this hilarious, tenderhearted book, JP shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet in America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s most challenging questions: How do I let go of the past? How do I become the person I want to be? Is there such a thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out of the closet? Questions we’ve all asked ourselves, surely.
¡Hola Papi! is “a warm, witty compendium of hard-won life lessons,” (Harper’s Bazaar) for anyone—gay, straight, and everything in between—who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world.
About the Author
John Paul Brammer is an author, illustrator, and columnist from rural Oklahoma currently living in Brooklyn. He runs the popular advice column “¡Hola Papi!” on Substack. His work, including essays, short fiction, and illustrations, has appeared in The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Catapult, Business Insider, and many more. ¡Hola Papi! is his first book. He runs a print shop where he puts his artwork and designs at HolaPapiShop.com. You can keep up with him on Twitter or Instagram @JPBrammer.
A 2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF SUMMER 2021 AS SELECTED BY * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * OPRAH DAILY * HARPER’S BAZAAR * COSMOPOLITAN * VULTURE * AV CLUB * THE ADVOCATE * BOOKRIOT * PRIDE * LAMBDA LITERARY * NEW NOW NEXT * AND MORE!
“A wise and charming book. [Brammer] is such a good writer, and so well rounded.”—DAVID SEDARIS
“[Brammer] is both kind and piercingly funny, often in the same sentence….Personal and affecting….¡Hola Papi! is a master class of tone and tenderness, as Brammer balances self-compassion with humor. Throughout, Brammer bridges his identities and his sensibilities; he is at once the self-deprecating Papi and the kind sage John Paul. He leaves his beloved reader with the solace that, by practicing kindness in our reflections, we can find lessons for ourselves and teach others to do the same.”—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (EDITORS' CHOICE)
"The next generation's 'Dear Abby'."—MSNBC
“[¡Hola Papi! should be] required reading...[Brammer's] writing is incredibly funny, kind and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you.”—LOS ANGELES TIMES
“An outgrowth from John Paul Brammer’s advice column of the same name, ¡Hola Papi! is part words of wisdom, part raucous memoir careening through the misadventures of queer youth. Taken together, that adds up to a warm, witty compendium of hard-won life lessons, ripped directly from the annals of Brammer’s own experiences as a biracial gay man.”—HARPER'S BAZAAR
"The mixed-race Mexican-American writer created the column several years ago and channeled the format into an essay-filled memoir....Expect, above all else, vulnerability....Our advice? Devour whatever Brammer cooks up.”—USA TODAY
“[An] irreverent and deeply thoughtful book....¡Hola Papi! is a warm and funny read, and an ode to storytelling — to the possibilities it holds for both forgiving and reinventing yourself.”—BOSTON GLOBE
“Brammer is a maestro of the under-cutting joke, deployed with only the best intentions for advice-seekers. ¡Hola Papi! … is a study in these kinds of perfect punctures that burst up like wildflowers throughout Brammer’s more straightforward advice: They make the whole of it pretty, novel, and worth remembering.”—VICE
“[Brammer] refracts the anxieties of young queer readers through his own life story...The result is a soulful memoir, each chapter drawing on an episode of his life to glean a lesson that upends advice as you know it, inviting the reader to take hold of their personal narrative.”—VOX
"Poignant, hilarious, and addictively readable.”—AV CLUB
“¡Hola Papi!...is sure to have the signature blend of tender, introspective and hilarious that has made his writing so beloved.”—AKWAEKE EMEZI, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“[A] moving, funny, and exquisitely written book...Brammer’s spot-on humor, emotional and intellectual insight, and storytelling skill converge into essential reading that grapples with the tenuous idea of authority and what it means to forge human connection.”—SHONDALAND
“Reading [¡Hola Papi!] feels a lot like going to therapy — if the therapist was also your funniest friend. As in his column, Brammer’s prose in the memoir-in-essays is notably witty and deeply personal. Yet, it’s themes are universal: trauma, identity, heartbreak, and the stories we tell about ourselves.”—REFINERY29
“Papi is both empathetic and blunt, validating those who contact him while still seizing opportunities to poke fun at them....Brammer describes Papi as 'kind of like a cartoon character,' and a persona separate from himself. But with a new memoir, which borrows the column's title, the writer is finally introducing himself to the public.”—WASHINGTON POST
“[H]ilarious and heartfelt...[Brammer] tackles these tough topics with both humor and honesty. Intermixed within the memoir are Brammer’s trademark wisdom and advice.”—BUZZFEED
“Readers are likely to become addicted to these stories; they’re that good. Beautifully written...the stories run a gamut of emotions that readers will share. Some are wistful; some, melancholy; others, sad or poignant or bittersweet. The subjects of the stories—Brammer’s quotidian life—are made fascinating with the author's deeply introspective musing and self-analysis. Brammer comes to know himself very well, and readers will be delighted to make his acquaintance, too.”—BOOKLIST (STARRED REVIEW)
“Packed with illuminatingly frank perspectives…The sum of Brammer’s life experiences will prove charming, instructional, and frequently relatable for his established readership and those seeking time-tested advice on contemporary conundrums.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS
“Through essays that blend memoir with solicited advice, he addresses the messy emotions and experiences that follow us from adolescence into adulthood: How do we let go of childhood trauma? How do we grow confident in our identities? Brammer responds through his own deeply personal stories, while gently reminding us that he doesn’t have all the answers. No one does.”—VULTURE (35 BOOKS WE CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS SUMMER)
“[H]ilarious and heartfelt...In each essay, he recounts stories from his own life and then ties his own experience into a larger narrative about how to navigate…well, being alive in the world.”—BOOKRIOT (20 MUST-READ QUEER BOOKS OUT IN JUNE)
“Brammer’s worldview is grounded in realism and self-deprecating humor; his book is likely to be a well-loved addition to any collection of personal essays or memoirs. There is an ease and charm to Brammer’s writing that will make readers feel as though he is sitting beside them, regaling them with his often funny, increasingly insightful, sometimes heartbreaking tales. With a combination of frankness and self-reflection...This collection shines especially brightly whenever Brammer describes his coming-of-age experiences...As he does in his advice column, Brammer addresses readers directly, showing us the times he sought advice and the times he should have taken it."—LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Brammer’s talent as a storyteller lies in extracting profound meaning from seemingly minor events and feelings...¡Hola Papi! is a testament to turning past struggles and humiliations into fuel for a brighter future, and to owning your experiences by reframing the narrative and finding agency in the retelling.”—BOOKPAGE
“Consoler of the queer and lonely John Paul Brammer—a self-described 'Twitter-addled gay Mexican with anxiety'—expands upon his popular ¡Hola Papi! advice column, often hilarious and always heartfelt, spinning personal misadventures into invaluable life lessons.”—OPRAH MAGAZINE
“John Paul Brammer brings his trademark heart and wit to essays that reveal how he grew up queer and mixed-race in the American heartland, came out in a Walmart parking lot (he does not recommend it), and became the LGBTQ+ community's favorite advice columnist — the 'Chicano Carrie Bradshaw' of his generation.”—THE ADVOCATE (22 LGBTQ+ BOOKS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO READ THIS YEAR)
“If you haven’t been subscribing to John Paul Brammer’s ¡Hola Papi! advice newsletter, you’ve been missing tender and funny and sweet notes on how to go from friends to lovers, questionable Latinx fetishes, and broken hearts. His memoir uses his own life as the source material for hard-earned lessons, keeping the same funny and gentle voice along the way. Being biracial and closeted in rural Oklahoma means that sometimes you end up coming out in a Walmart parking lot, and Brammer is there to guide you along the way.”—REMEZCLA
“Teaching life lessons with laughter is Brammer’s specialty, and this is a must-read for any of his devoted readers.”—NEW NOW NEXT (17 EXCITING QUEER BOOKS TO SAVOR THIS SUMMER)
“I have for years looked and hoped to find a writer who could write about being (among other things) Mexican-American in a way that not only felt vital and delicate and funny and tender, but also that made me feel more connected to people who did not happen to look like me. John Paul, it would appear, is exactly that. He has a remarkable ability for writing in a way that makes it feel like he's crawling around inside your head, opening up the old wooden chests and trunk that you were never quite smart enough to figure out how to unlock. I loved ¡Hola Papi!. I'm certain you will too.”—SHEA SERRANO, #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF BASKETBALL (AND OTHER THINGS)
“With the briny wit of David Rakoff, the illuminated-from-within wisdom of Cheryl Strayed, and the singular perspective that can only come from JP Brammer, ¡Hola Papi! takes the anxiety-riddled questions of being and otherness and answers them with an expansive openness that will take your breath away. Every essay in this book is revealing, personal, at times cathartic or bracing, and, above all, infused with an endless reserve of compassion. In this way, ¡Hola Papi! is life-giving. It's also life giving as in ‘this book gave me life!’ if that's how you role. Oh, my heart! My feelings! My soul! This book, which is also so richly funny and well-observed, is a gift to any reader who wants to be reminded of what an extraordinary and complex thing it is to be alive. It is an invigorating and vital read.”—R. ERIC THOMAS, bestselling author of Here for It, or How to Save Your Soul in America
“I've been a fan of JP Brammer’s for years now, following him from platform to platform in a non-creepy way, of course, always happy to shell out money for the privilege, but his free content online is more than we deserve. I do this because I have been consistently amazed at Brammer’s capacity for satire and seriousness, the way his insights lay bare what I was feeling sometimes before I knew it, and how he can break your heart as he makes you laugh. That he does all of this under the auspices of helping anyone is...Well, we are lucky to live in the era of JP Brammer. That really is all.”—ALEXANDER CHEE, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“JP Brammer is the best storyteller. Every chapter of this amazing book will sweep you along on a tidal wave of suspense, wit, and gut-wrenching insights into the bewilderment of growing up and figuring out who you are. I love this book so much and I hope Brammer writes many more.”—HEATHER HAVRILESKY, “Ask Polly” columnist and author of What If This Were Enough?
“John Paul is so good that he makes me forget I'm reading. I sit down with ¡Hola Papi!, and ten minutes later, I'm crying, sending the funniest lines to my friends, and somehow feeling better about humanity. He's a beautiful writer. But he's also a really welcoming writer. Like, his work invites you in. This book reflects that perfectly.”—RAINBOW ROWELL, #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ELEANOR & PARK
“John Paul’s writing is a light. His heart, wit, and compassion shine through everything he writes, and his work has a way of making people feel loved, seen, validated, and connected. His perspective is much needed, and his voice needs to be heard far and wide. ¡Hola Papi! tackles race, gender, and sexuality in a way that speaks directly to marginalized communities with humor and warmth, while also bringing all of us into the conversation together. His work is essential and necessary.”—JONNY SUN, TV WRITER (BOJACK HORSEMAN) AND AUTHOR OF EVERYONE'S A ALIEBN WHEN UR A ALIEBN TOO