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Illuminating and heartbreaking.

In this adaptation of her memoir for adults, Smith, who died in 2017, chronicles life with cystic fibrosis from age 16 to 25.

For Smith, a Jewish girl from California, time is “the meanest of forces.” Inextricable from her accounts of sports, dating, Hawaiian vacations, college at Stanford, and post-graduation freelance writing is the fact that her future is altered and shortened by CF, a progressive genetic disease that affects the lungs and other organs, and Burkholderia cenocepacia, a deadly bacteria that further compromises her lungs. Though Smith’s stream-of-consciousness writing is sometimes difficult to follow, readers will glean thought-provoking insights as she matures. Readers navigating chronic illness will especially appreciate Smith’s candid, angry, and occasionally dark-humored anecdotes of coughing up blood in public, undergoing embarrassing and painful procedures, processing body image insecurities and physical limitations as her condition declines, and fielding hope and disappointment as she awaits a double lung transplant. Smith’s musings on her eventual death and its impact on her family are particularly poignant. Acknowledging the privilege of having supportive parents able to negotiate with insurance companies, Smith soberingly notes that “patients who don’t have that are the patients who die as a result of bureaucratic bullshit.” Heart-wrenching entries from her mother, aunt, and boyfriend, Jack, detail Smith’s grueling transplant recovery and complications that led to her death. In an afterword, Jack movingly explores his grief and his relationship with Smith.

Illuminating and heartbreaking. (“When I Die,” note on phage therapy) (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593647479

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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