Authentic but underwhelming.



In a reprint of her 2006 verse memoir, Schutz (You Are Not Here, 2010, etc.) details her journey working through and accepting her panic disorder in her teens and early 20s.

When Schutz, who is white and Jewish, left home for her first year at her small, liberal arts college, she didn’t anticipate that her experience would be hijacked by anxiety disorder. Almost immediately, however, she began to have overwhelming panic attacks that drastically disrupted her life. While she quickly gained access to therapy and medication, her mental health was still shaky. Medications were hit and miss; panic attacks came and went; studying abroad became excruciatingly difficult. She began the long, hard, nearly endless work of coping with her anxiety and panic, her on-again, off-again relationships with boys, the ebbs and flows of friendships, and trepidation at managing everyday life as a college student. A rapid conclusion may leave readers feeling cut short, but an author’s note provides insight into Schutz’s life post-book and includes mental health resources. Schutz relays the internalized shame she experienced with honesty. However, filled with telling rather than showing, Schutz’s free verse falls flat and comes across as neither truly raw nor finessed. Oppressive vocabulary is used without contextualization or critique (“retarded,” “slut,” “crazy,” “handicapped”), which contributes to aspects of the book feeling outdated rather than just set during the early 2000s.

Authentic but underwhelming. (author’s note) (Verse memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33749-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.


A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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Small but mighty necessary reading.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

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 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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