Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta (2014), which documents the lives of transgender teens in their own words, is a superior title...



An outsiders’ guide to the experiences of transgender individuals.

Portraying a marginalized group for the consumption of the majority is always a dicey proposition, and Cronn-Mills’ (whose Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, 2012, won a 2014 Stonewall Award) effort here illustrates many of the pitfalls. Short, third-person narrative portraits of transgender individuals—all adults and all but one apparently white—are interleaved with dry, overgeneralized informational segments about identities, health care, and historical and cross-cultural examples of gender nonconformity. Despite the title’s promise of complexity, the portraits are too brief to give anything more than an impression of their subjects, and stories focus heavily on coming out and physical transition. Similarly, informational chapters give readers little to hold onto. A typically uninformative sentence begins, “Terms for individuals who have flexible gender identities may include…” and then goes on to list 10 terms without attempting to explain or contextualize any of them. Entries in an erratically selected “Who’s Who” unnecessarily and inappropriately include transgender public figures’ birth names, and accounts of violence against transgender people are slotted jarringly among neutral or positive informational segments.

Susan Kuklin’s Beyond Magenta (2014), which documents the lives of transgender teens in their own words, is a superior title in every way. (timeline, glossary, notes, bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7613-9022-0

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Small but mighty necessary reading.


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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Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.


This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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