A powerful read for this time of unprecedented refugee movement across the globe.

DON'T LOOK BACK

A MEMOIR OF WAR, SURVIVAL, AND MY JOURNEY FROM SUDAN TO AMERICA

A refugee who survived the Second Sudanese Civil War tells her story.

Co-authors Hutton and Deng open with historical and political context for the brutal civil war that wracked Sudan from 1983 to 2005 before recounting Deng’s harrowing tale. This compelling first-person narrative moves swiftly through short and often suspenseful chapters that chronicle Deng’s life from 1988 through 2010, mostly focusing on the horrors she endured between November 1991, when she was 6 and fled a rebel soldiers’ attack on her village, through her August 1992 arrival at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya after an arduous 1,000-mile trek. Deng grew up at the camp, enduring ongoing deprivation and loss but also receiving some education and making deep friendships. At age 16 she resettled in Texas in a situation that brought its own challenges. Woven throughout are themes of unresolved grief (she does not know if her parents are alive), her Christian faith (where is God in all the atrocities she has witnessed?), patriarchy (she must cede to older male relatives’ wishes), and hope (modeled for her by loving adults). Deng is now a mother who has built a life in the U.S., working in human relations in a South Dakota meatpacking plant. This is a gripping account of an extraordinary journey.

A powerful read for this time of unprecedented refugee movement across the globe. (authors’ note, family tree, Deng’s letter to readers) (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-38972-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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