Contextual and informative, with positive suggestions to reduce vitriol and preserve American pluralism.



A clear introduction to the climate around recent U.S. dissension.

Kallen thoughtfully elucidates multiple causes—including the Covid-19 pandemic, cable news shows, social media, and racism—that have contributed to negative shifts in Americans’ behavior. He also offers advice on preserving mental health and avoiding becoming addicted to feelings of anger. In a chapter on media, the author shows how Rush Limbaugh, whose talk radio show normalized incivility; Rupert Murdoch, who founded Fox News; and Donald Trump, who routinely used name-calling and other reality TV strategies, all promoted attention-seeking as a supreme goal. Citing experts’ analyses and including anecdotes about ordinary people, Kallen shows how tribalism and a lack of perspective, often stemming from partial awareness of issues and consumption of biased media, increase misunderstandings and political division. The final chapter, “Stepping Back From Anger,” covers topics such as book bans and school board battles over curriculum as well as de-escalating and civility-enhancing initiatives like workshops and podcasts. Threats targeting women and the unfair application of anti-protest laws to communities of color are mentioned. Unfortunately, despite citing a study showing that 96% of Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful, the photo illustrating a protest against the police killing of George Floyd shows a police car on fire. Sidebars with quotes and useful background information supplement the accessible text, making this a useful overview of a timely subject.

Contextual and informative, with positive suggestions to reduce vitriol and preserve American pluralism. (picture credits, source notes, further research, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-67820-330-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: ReferencePoint Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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