Despite the current gay-teen-novel canon that depicts worlds where two boys can kiss in public for hour upon hour or...

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PLAYING BY THE BOOK

For some, coming out is still hard to do.

Despite the current gay-teen-novel canon that depicts worlds where two boys can kiss in public for hour upon hour or dystopias where teen heroes can just happen to be gay, it can be refreshing to find a good, ol’ coming-out novel. Seventeen-year-old Alabama-born, Pentecostal-preacher–in-the-making Jake Powell manages to convince his Bible-beating dad that he should go to Columbia over the summer to enroll in an exclusive prejournalism program. His perspective widens considerably: He befriends both a gay student and his South Asian roommate and crushes on a girl...maybe. Jake’s religious upbringing overwhelms the text, as he quotes and remembers page upon page of Scripture. It’s clearly meant to show the influence of his growing up a preacher’s kid, but it does get tedious. The debut takes off, however, when things get hot and heavy between Jake and his new friend, Julie. The picture-perfect moment when Jake realizes who he is despite all he’s done to pray the gay away is nothing short of priceless. Shirley’s first is solid but pushes no real new boundaries, which may be a good thing. Despite the countless Bible quotes, his plotting moves smoothly, and his characters feel likable and real. An author worth watching. (Fiction. 12-16) .

An author worth watching(Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: June 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62601-071-0

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Magnus Books/Riverdale Avenue Books

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity.

FUTUREDAZE

AN ANTHOLOGY OF YA SCIENCE FICTION

A low-wattage collection of original stories and poems, as unmemorable as it is unappealingly titled.

The collection was inspired by a perceived paucity of short science fiction for teen readers, and its production costs were covered by a Kickstarter campaign. The editors gather a dozen poems and 21 stories from a stable of contributors who, after headliners Jack McDevitt and Nancy Holder, will be largely unknown even to widely read fans of the genre. The tales place their characters aboard spacecraft or space stations, on other worlds or in future dystopias, but only rarely do the writers capture a credibly adolescent voice or sensibility. Standouts in this department are the Heinlein-esque “The Stars Beneath Our Feet,” by Stephen D. Covey & Sandra McDonald, about a first date/joyride in space gone wrong, and Camille Alexa’s portrait of a teen traumatized by a cyberspace assault (“Over It”). Along with a few attempts to craft futuristic slang, only Lavie Tidhar’s fragmentary tale of Tel Aviv invaded by successive waves of aliens, doppelgangers, zombies and carnivorous plants (“The Myriad Dangers”) effectively lightens the overall earnest tone. Aside from fictional aliens and modified humans, occasional references to dark skin (“Out of the Silent Sea,” Dale Lucas) are the only signs of ethnic diversity. Most of the free-verse poetry makes only oblique, at best, references to science-fictional themes.

A change of pace from the teeming swarms of fantasy and paranormal romance but too underpowered to achieve escape velocity. (author bios) (Science fiction/short stories. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9847824-0-8

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Underwords

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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These are experiences that need to be remembered, though Arakawa’s are not as compellingly related as other novels or...

THE LITTLE EXILE

A child of Japanese immigrants looks back on her World War II–era experiences in internment camps and afterward.

Changing names and inventing details to fill in the gaps between memories, Arakawa, in character as Shizuye, begins with her 1932 birth on a Murphy bed in San Francisco, takes her narrative through multiple moves that become forced ones in the wake of Pearl Harbor, then concludes with a temporary postwar settlement in Denver and final journey back to the West Coast. Despite the fictive fill, her account is spotty and episodic, more hindered than helped in its course by such details as painstaking descriptions of the route between one home and the local playground or tedious tallies of the comings and goings of briefly known schoolmates. As much a personal story as testament to a historical outrage, her recollections mingle references to domestic strife, pre-adolescent bed-wetting, and suicidal impulses following the internment with incidents of being jeered as a “Jap” on the way home from school, encounters with neighborhood “racial covenants,” and other manifestations of prejudice—not to mention repeated forcible removals to hastily constructed camps in California and, later, Arkansas. Occasional mentions of “Caucasian” visitors or a friend’s “dark skin” serve as reminders that most of the figures here are Asian or Asian-American.

These are experiences that need to be remembered, though Arakawa’s are not as compellingly related as other novels or personal accounts of the travesty. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61172-036-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Stone Bridge Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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