This queer novel stands out thanks to the 1970s San Francisco setting and punk vibe.

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MUSIC FROM ANOTHER WORLD

As the national gay rights battle heats up in the summer of 1977, two high school girls from disparate California communities are paired in a pen pal assignment.

Tammy Larson is from a conservative Christian community in Orange County. She is forced by her family to participate in activities in support of Anita Bryant’s anti-gay rights crusade in Florida. Tammy knows she is gay and fears the wrath of her Aunt Mandy, a church leader. Sharon Hawkins lives with her mother and brother in San Francisco. She is keeping her brother’s gay identity a secret while also trying to figure out her feelings for her boyfriend—and for girls. The book’s structure includes Tammy’s and Sharon’s letters interspersed with Sharon’s diary entries and Tammy’s unmailed letters to her idol, gay rights leader Harvey Milk. The girls’ growing trust in each other makes Sharon’s home the logical place for Tammy to flee following a crisis at home. The author expertly brings to life the pre-AIDS world of San Francisco’s gay neighborhoods, the vitality of the nascent gay rights movement (including welcome details about the often overlooked lesbian community), and the punk rock scene. The book’s strengths include good pacing, a respectful acknowledgment of bisexuality, and satisfying personal and political denouements. Both girls are white; there is ethnic diversity in secondary characters.

This queer novel stands out thanks to the 1970s San Francisco setting and punk vibe. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-335-14677-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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