Compelling.

READ REVIEW

BRAVE FACE

A MEMOIR

A ’90s era teen–cum–YA novelist presents a frank, good-humored recollection of depression, self-loathing, and eventual self-respect.

For the fainthearted, a disclaimer gives fair warning that this trip is pregnant with discomfort and mounds of bad behavior. Make it past that fence post and there’s an amalgam of emails, journal entries, and early writing peppered throughout a contemporary memoir. These time-capsule bread crumbs of Hutchinson’s (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, 2019, etc.) younger voice layer even more honesty than might otherwise be there; though it’s autobiographical, he’s acutely aware that he’s writing what he remembers. As a teen he grapples with his sexuality, unable to understand why his heterosexual make-outs skew repulsive instead of gratifying. When Hutchinson’s own writing helps him realize that he’s gay, it’s not a smooth shift to self-love; rather, the realization helps him articulate why he hates himself. Being gay instills a fear of rejection because he doesn’t yet have the faculty to realize that homosexuality is more than subscribing to a flamboyant Hollywood stereotype doomed to be treated with disgust or ridicule. In recognizing he’s gay, he’s now tasked with re-establishing a future that had been previously forecast on a disingenuous heterosexual foundation. His depression’s always-there voice of suicide says he’ll never have what he wants, coloring his days difficult. There’s a lot to endure and survive and screw up before he finds there’s a niche for anyone in the queer community.

Compelling. (Memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3151-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

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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A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches.

QUEERFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE

A GUIDE FOR LGBTQ+ CHRISTIAN TEENS

A must-read guide for all queer and questioning Christians (and their allies, too)!

Queer youth still face a multitude of challenges while growing up, and these have the potential to be amplified by religious beliefs. Addressing that issue head-on, this guide for Christians seeks to provide counsel, understanding, and gentle guidance across a series of 40-plus chapters that address everything from coming out in a variety of contexts, positive ways to deal with haters, and helping start the conversation about gender-neutral bathrooms at school, to living authentically. The book acknowledges that the advice is sometimes vague, but that’s because the spectrum of queer life is so broad. In this regard, the book excels by speaking to a range of genders and sexual identities; asexuals, nonbinary people, bisexuals, pansexuals, etc., are all addressed with respect and will find useful tips for navigating their early years. The book works better for hunt-and-peck readers as opposed to those reading from cover to cover because some of the information is repetitious, but that repetition may be necessary to counterbalance years of incorrect, inaccurate, or purposely hateful misinformation. The contributors to this fabulous read include mental health experts and religious leaders. Text boxes, pie charts, graphs, and grayscale illustrations support and enhance the main narrative.

A must-have book for libraries, schools, and churches. (note on language, glossary, additional resources, sources) (Self-help. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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There are some funny moments, particularly in the simple black-and-white cartoons of a girl and boy that accompany the text...

HOW NOT TO BE A DICK

AN EVERYDAY ETIQUETTE GUIDE

Jokes about cheese logs abound in this humorous but sometimes-belabored etiquette guide ostensibly aimed at teens.

Following an introduction that defines what makes a person seem like a dick, seven chapters address situations ranging from initiating romantic relationships to behaving responsibly at after-office get-togethers. An uneasy line is straddled in terms of its intended age range. Readers are dutifully exhorted to make sure they wear proper attire to school dances: “Most schools have dress codes for dances. Read them carefully!” Yet there’s also advice on how to politely use a coffee shop as your office if you’re working from home. Further, a section on safety and manners at parties seems at times to employ the euphemistic term “sugary beverages” for alcohol and suggests “If you are buzzing on sugar or if someone spiked the punch, DO NOT DRIVE.” This cagey approach to the topic of teen drinking is confusing at best and at worst, may strike readers as condescending.

There are some funny moments, particularly in the simple black-and-white cartoons of a girl and boy that accompany the text throughout. However, as etiquette goes, there’s not much that is new here and a real question of whom this is for. (Nonfiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936976-02-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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