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ROAD HOME

Raw and vulnerable; a necessary look at the realities of homelessness.

Award-winning author Ogle shares the story of being kicked out by his father for being gay and his subsequent experience with homelessness in this conclusion to his memoir trilogy.

In a chance encounter at a hotel in Pensacola, Florida, during a family beach vacation in the late 1990s, 17-year-old Rex meets the charming Russell. He leaves with his first kiss and Russell’s number. Sometime later, Rex’s father issues an ultimatum: Rex can remain at home if he agrees to go to therapy (and pay for it himself), attend church weekly, date a girl chosen by his dad, and avoid any “person of homosexual persuasion.” Refusing to live a lie, Rex packs his things into his truck and leaves Alabama. Certain that he can’t return to his abusive mother and stepfather in Texas and terrified of facing his highly religious abuela, he heads to New Orleans, where Russell lives. There he finds momentary stability and can begin searching for a job and preparing for college. A relationship forms between Rex and the 31-year-old Russell, but as Rex struggles to find work, the power imbalance between them comes to a violent head. Soon, Rex is living on the streets, where he experiences numerous traumas and ultimately questions what it means to survive. Ogle’s story, relayed in short, fast-paced chapters, is deeply personal and affecting, and readers will be anxious to learn how this period of his life ended.

Raw and vulnerable; a necessary look at the realities of homelessness. (author’s note, afterword) (Memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781324019923

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

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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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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