This potent memoir assuredly navigates the complicated intersections of identity.

A graphic memoir about the forming of one woman’s queer identity.

De La Cruz tells the story of growing into her queerness, illustrating moments of adolescent confusion and repression leading up to eventual confidence in her adult self. The author not only explores how her queer identity formed, but also how the intersection of her other identities—for example, race and gender—compounded the struggles she experienced. A Black woman from a Caribbean Latinx family, De La Cruz delves into her juggling of many forms of internalized oppression, from the shame caused by familial, community, and internalized racism to the discomfort and stress of strict gender binaries and their impact on her feelings about clothing. As De La Cruz contended with surviving stressful external realities while also deconstructing harmful ideologies, her journey to being out was a long but rewarding one. She also educates readers on queer and racial history, as in a section that illustrates the background to the Stonewall uprising. The book expects readers to already be somewhat familiar with terms like patriarchy and heteronormative to get the most out of the text’s more advanced concepts. A sketchy, zinelike art style combined with the interesting framing of panels and gutters effectively portrays both the fears and joys of discovering one’s marginalized identity and vividly and effectively conveys the author’s changing understanding.

This potent memoir assuredly navigates the complicated intersections of identity. (Graphic memoir. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951491-05-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Street Noise Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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