A tapestry of the gay teenage experience—frayed edges repaired with earnest love and care.

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QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL

A debut YA novel offers a tale of reaching out, conflict, and acceptance.

Wyatt Yarrow is caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s a closeted gay teenager, surrounded by deep-rooted homophobia in the small town of Lincolnville, Oregon. Not only that, he’s also a devoted history nerd who even makes videos about his favorite subjects. In other words, Wyatt’s bully, Jonathon Rails, has plenty of ammunition. None of that is news, but when Wyatt’s best (and only) friend, Mackenzie Miller, starts romantically pursuing him, he reaches a whole new level of isolation. Retreating into history books, Wyatt still finds some respite in his favorite subject: President Abraham Lincoln. What’s more, Wyatt’s research leads him to a shocking discovery: Lincoln was in love with another man. Armed with this information, Wyatt hopes that it can bring about some newfound acceptance for gay people and maybe drum up customers for the family business, a bed-and-breakfast themed after Lincoln’s life that’s struggling to stay afloat. Wyatt posts his evidence online, thinking that he’s about to see change for the better. But what he gets instead is an out-of-control controversy, threatening to cost him everything as it grows and spreads way beyond Lincolnville’s borders. Far from having his problems solved, Wyatt finds himself lost and confused, struggling to provide more proof and discovering who he is when pushed against the wall. The novel’s premise is a real hook, lending Wind’s complex story a sense of gravitas beyond the personal narrative. Add to that the thorough research behind Wyatt’s discovery (and the end notes that go along with it), and readers have something with real potential to influence and educate on top of entertaining. If there’s any fault to be found, it’s a lack of subtlety. Parts of the narrative and some of the characters’ actions feel exaggerated or dated, ranging from large public gestures and dramatically timed changes of heart to the level of blatant intolerance on display, with the gym teacher casually using homophobic slurs, for instance. The threats and pressures heaped on Wyatt and his family also register as somewhat divorced from more contemporary breeds of harassment and bullying. But throughout all of this, Wyatt’s need to feel connected and accepted is palpable and genuine, which makes up for the inconsistencies.

A tapestry of the gay teenage experience—frayed edges repaired with earnest love and care.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73222-811-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: I'm Here. I'm Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2018

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Bulky, balky, talky.

THE DA VINCI CODE

In an updated quest for the Holy Grail, the narrative pace remains stuck in slo-mo.

But is the Grail, in fact, holy? Turns out that’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a member of that most secret of clandestine societies, the Priory of Sion, you think yes. But if your heart belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, the Grail is more than just unholy, it’s downright subversive and terrifying. At least, so the story goes in this latest of Brown’s exhaustively researched, underimagined treatise-thrillers (Deception Point, 2001, etc.). When Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon—in Paris to deliver a lecture—has his sleep interrupted at two a.m., it’s to discover that the police suspect he’s a murderer, the victim none other than Jacques Saumière, esteemed curator of the Louvre. The evidence against Langdon could hardly be sketchier, but the cops feel huge pressure to make an arrest. And besides, they don’t particularly like Americans. Aided by the murdered man’s granddaughter, Langdon flees the flics to trudge the Grail-path along with pretty, persuasive Sophie, who’s driven by her own need to find answers. The game now afoot amounts to a scavenger hunt for the scholarly, clues supplied by the late curator, whose intent was to enlighten Sophie and bedevil her enemies. It’s not all that easy to identify these enemies. Are they emissaries from the Vatican, bent on foiling the Grail-seekers? From Opus Dei, the wayward, deeply conservative Catholic offshoot bent on foiling everybody? Or any one of a number of freelancers bent on a multifaceted array of private agendas? For that matter, what exactly is the Priory of Sion? What does it have to do with Leonardo? With Mary Magdalene? With (gulp) Walt Disney? By the time Sophie and Langdon reach home base, everything—well, at least more than enough—has been revealed.

Bulky, balky, talky.

Pub Date: March 18, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50420-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for...

A COURT OF FROST AND STARLIGHT

From the Court of Thorns and Roses series , Vol. 4

A glimpse of the characters dealing with rebuilding and fallout after A Court of Wings and Ruin (2017).

In a change of pace from the usual epic struggle against powerful forces, this slimmer-than-usual volume follows the cast during the festive Winter Solstice holiday. Nods to trouble on the horizon (dissent in the Illyrian ranks, Fae courts eyeing for expansion, and a politically fraught situation among humans) remain distant, the lack of progress at times resulting in frustrating repetition. Cassian’s and Mor’s backstories are explored, and prickly Amren’s low-key relationship storyline is supplemented by her High Fae adjustments (including bodily humor). While Elain is becoming more comfortable, she still wants nothing to do with Lucien (who feels like an outsider nearly everywhere and has his hands full with a self-destructive Tamlin). Severely struggling Nesta self-medicates through alcohol, meaningless sex, pushing everyone away, and finding every last seedy corner of the otherwise utopian Velaris. While Rhys handles politics, Feyre’s storyline revolves around Solstice shopping and art’s potential for healing trauma—when the lovers aren’t telepathically sexting or craving each other. Aside from occasional minor characters, most of the inhuman cast seem white. Several plotlines are predictably resolved.

With introspection replacing battles, this extended epilogue gives breathing room between dramatic arcs but is best for readers who’d prefer downtime with the characters over high stakes. (map, preview of next title) (Fantasy. 16-adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-631-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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