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Ultimately, readers will wonder just who they’ve been getting to know and whether they really know him at all.

A meditation on belonging, choices and denial.

Kevin, a 17-year-old runaway, dreams of living as a romantic outsider, but fellow runaways Stacey and Molly sniff him out immediately. Utterly lacking in street smarts, Kevin is too earnest by half, and he reeks of privilege. During the day, he slums it with the girls or with a group of guys who live at Crystal City’s disgusting beach, and at night, he eats well, showers and sleeps at his welcoming uncle Sydney’s house. Kevin describes Sydney as his family’s black sheep, but Sydney is in fact a charming, self-confessed criminal who cheerfully offers to kill Kevin’s dad after Kevin implies that his broken arm is his dad’s fault. Lynch’s (Inexcusable, 2005; Angry Young Man, 2011) skill at sustaining an appealing voice while slowly unveiling the extent of his protagonist’s self-deception is impressive: Kevin—a bumbler, but every bit as winning as his sociopathic uncle—is clearly suffering, but his struggles are both garden-variety and largely self-inflicted, particularly in comparison with the true desperation of Stacey, Molly and the men from the beach. It’s easy to root for Kevin, but his self-pity and often cruel choices don’t make him much of a hero.

Ultimately, readers will wonder just who they’ve been getting to know and whether they really know him at all. (Thriller. 14-17)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4011-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A welcome hit into the outfield of books about queer athletes.

A closeted teen steps up to the plate for a cute boy—and himself.

After jocks ridicule and knock over his history class presentation, freshman Jonah picks up the pieces. Cute classmate Elliot helps. That small act of kindness makes sparks fly, cuing confusing feelings. Jonah decides to join the baseball team to get closer to Elliot—even if it means enduring more bullying from the other teammates. But Coach Jackson sees Jonah’s athletic potential and takes him under his wing. As the plot follows the four baseball seasons until Jonah’s graduation, Jonah slowly goes from laughingstock to star. But does he ever truly fit in? Cartoonist and editor Newman’s semiautobiographical graphic novel debut is a heartfelt tale of self-discovery. Consolidating all four years of high school into one book makes for a quick pace. Clever paneling and nearly wordless sequences effectively pump the brakes for key moments—and show glimpses of Jonah’s wild imagination. Despite the rampant bro culture and homophobia of the aughts setting, multiple queer characters of all ages at various stages of coming out add an important sense of community and possibility. A subplot about a female teammate briefly touches on sexism. Though the ensemble cast is diverse in skin tone, the majority of the main cast present white; Coach Jackson is Black.

A welcome hit into the outfield of books about queer athletes. (author’s note, process notes, resources) (Graphic fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781524884826

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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