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

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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A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body.

MY EYES ARE UP HERE

Greer Walsh wishes she were one person...unfortunately, with her large breasts, she feels like she’s actually three.

High school sophomore and math whiz Greer is self-conscious about her body. Maude and Mavis, as she’s named her large breasts, are causing problems for her. When Greer meets new kid Jackson Oates, she wishes even more that she had a body that she didn’t feel a need to hide underneath XXL T-shirts. While trying to impress Jackson, who has moved to the Chicago suburbs from Cleveland, Greer decides to try out for her school’s volleyball team. When she makes JV, Greer is forced to come to terms with how her body looks and feels in a uniform and in motion as well as with being physically close with her teammates. The story is told in the first person from Greer’s point of view. Inconsistent storytelling as well as Greer’s (somewhat distracting) personified inner butterfly make this realistic novel a slow but overall enjoyable read. The story contains elements of light romance as well as strong female friendships. Greer is white with a Christian mom and Jewish dad; Jackson seems to be white by default, and there is diversity among the secondary characters.

A sweet, slow-paced novel about a teen learning to love her body. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1524-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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