A flawed, facile work that too often conflates ISIS and Islam.

THE WAR ON ISIS

The cover, engulfed in flames, visually prepares the reader for an inflammatory presentation on ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

Plentiful color photos of Islamic militants, tear-gassed protestors, de rigueur black-clad women, radicalized youth, civilian casualties, and the NYPD presence at the Thanksgiving parade push the right buttons in creating a sense of fear and alarmism. The author, a former journalist (but not an area specialist), bears out his assertion that ISIS is “a threat to global security” through documentation of terrorist attacks on several continents. Although the subject matter is deadly serious, the accessible writing style leads to some oversimplifications that may be misleading, as in his citing of a Tel Aviv University scholar who writes that “the Prophet Muhammad tolerated slavery,” a rather incomplete and malevolent claim considering that the practice of slavery was widespread in the ancient world, accepted at the time also by Christianity and Judaism. Co-authorship with a specialist scholar might have fine-tuned these points and improved the credibility of the sources; there’s an overreliance on social media, popular magazines, and some obviously biased books. Save your money; better (and more credible) works are available. For nonfiction about Islam, look for Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash (2017), and for fiction showing the impact of ISIS in Syria, read A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi (2018).

A flawed, facile work that too often conflates ISIS and Islam.   (source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68282-477-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: ReferencePoint Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2018

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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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