A coming-out story full of love and affirmation that encourages identity exploration.

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SOME GIRLS BIND

From the YA Verse series

A genderqueer teen claims their identity and comes out to the people they love in this novel in verse for reluctant readers.

Sixteen-year-old Jamie wears a too-tight vest to bind their chest beneath their baggy clothes. Neither “boy” nor “girl” feels right to them, but they worry about who they will become if they don’t fit inside the binary. With the encouragement of their best friend, Levi—a Jewish, cisgender, gay teen—Jamie seeks out the language to describe themself and gains the courage to share who they are with family and friends. The title, which misgenders the main character, mischaracterizes this otherwise sensitive, free-verse exploration of gender identity. Finding representation and community plays an important role in Jamie’s self-discovery. Their experience coming out to their older brother, Steve, and parents is refreshingly hopeful. Steve doesn’t always use affirming language. When describing his transgender roommate, he says, “Charlie was born / as a female biologically, / but he identifies as male.” However, he behaves as an advocate for Jamie with their parents and helps Jamie access a safer way to bind their chest. While Jamie has an overall positive experience with their family, James still acknowledges the challenges that come with living in a society that enforces a gender binary. Characters seem to follow a white default.

A coming-out story full of love and affirmation that encourages identity exploration. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8254-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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