Inspiring but not universal.

THE LETTER Q

QUEER WRITERS' NOTES TO THEIR YOUNGER SELVES

To hear the more than 50 contributors tell it, one might think that queer adults mostly end up living in ritzy corners of New York City and becoming published authors.

That, perhaps, is the necessary consequence of this project, which compiles lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer writers' letters to their younger selves. Big names in adult, teen or children's literature have contributed, including Michael Cunningham, Armistead Maupin, Marion Dane Bauer, Arthur Levine, Gregory Maguire and Amy Bloom. A number of comics artists—including Michael DiMotta, Jennifer Camper and Jasika Nicole—have penned letters in comic form. Many authors use their short (usually two- to three-page) letters to talk about the future. Some letters read like a memoir in second person; some describe past addictions, suicide attempts and other grim circumstances; many give advice. Comparisons to the It Gets Better video campaign, in which LGBT adults promise queer and questioning teenagers that life improves after high school, are inevitable. Contributors Jacqueline Woodson and Erik Orrantia even use the language of “getting better” outright. Yet the disproportionate achievement of fame, wealth and successful careers in the arts among the authors here seems an unfair promise to make to most readers.

Inspiring but not universal. (Anthology. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-39932-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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