Teens and adults who favor memoirs will be fascinated and deeply moved, when they get past the daunting page count

A LIST OF THINGS THAT DIDN'T KILL ME

A man whose emotionally unstable father moved him from home to home throughout the 1970s and ’80s before dying of AIDS tells his story.

Schmidt was only 3 when his father was arrested on drug charges. In lucid, careful detail, he recalls being packed off to his grandparents’. He explains the drastic difference between their home and his return to life with his dad, exemplified by his father's reframing of the Christ story taught to young Schmidt by his conservative stepgrandmother: “That’s a government lie. The truth is, Jesus was part alien.” It’s comical in this case, but the chasm that yawns between his dad’s anti-mainstream ideals, which his son often finds sympathetic, and his neglect and unpredictable temper is a theme throughout. Matter-of-fact descriptions of horrific events—his father, while stoned, recalling how he once threw Jason’s mother down a flight of stairs and later tried to kill himself, for example—allow the story to stand for itself, unmarred by melodrama. At bottom, this is an intensely personal narrative that meditates both on the writer’s individual experience of abuse and the social issues at play in being the son of a gay father who becomes ill with HIV in its early days.

Teens and adults who favor memoirs will be fascinated and deeply moved, when they get past the daunting page count . (Memoir. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-38013-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys.

THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

The acclaimed author of Between the World and Me (2015) reflects on the family and community that shaped him in this adaptation of his 2008 adult memoir of the same name.

Growing up in Baltimore in the ’80s, Coates was a dreamer, all “cupcakes and comic books at the core.” He was also heavily influenced by “the New York noise” of mid-to-late-1980s hip-hop. Not surprisingly then, his prose takes on an infectious hip-hop poetic–meets–medieval folklore aesthetic, as in this description of his neighborhood’s crew: “Walbrook Junction ran everything, until they met North and Pulaski, who, craven and honorless, would punk you right in front of your girl.” But it is Coates’ father—a former Black Panther and Afrocentric publisher—who looms largest in his journey to manhood. In a community where their peers were fatherless, Coates and his six siblings viewed their father as flawed but with the “aura of a prophet.” He understood how Black boys could get caught in the “crosshairs of the world” and was determined to save his. Coates revisits his relationships with his father, his swaggering older brother, and his peers. The result will draw in young adult readers while retaining all of the heart of the original.

A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys. (maps, family tree) (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984894-03-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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