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An emotionally honest and self-reflective debut.

In this memoir in verse, a gay, Black spoken-word artist, poet, and hip-hop educator recollects parts of his becoming.

At his high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he was known as “the man with the poems,” Keith was already a self-assured young writer: “I was thirteen when the first poem burst in my atmosphere like dat.” Mystified by a feeling of sadness, he responded by writing a poem. After being placed in the gifted and talented track, he’s critiqued by a “miserable” English teacher who doesn’t appreciate his strengths. Though writing poetry keeps Keith afloat emotionally, grappling with his sexuality is a different story altogether. He’s attracted to boys but hasn’t shared this openly and feels angst over feeling “obligated to act out a prescriptive performance every day” and to follow an expected script while attempting to see a way through to the other side of his accumulated fears. The poems flow into one another and are occasionally broken up with photos from his childhood and youth, images of his handwritten poems, and instant message chats, all of which enhance readers’ experiences of the book. Keith offers a vulnerability within these pages that’s reminiscent of George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue (2020) and Candice Iloh’s Every Body Looking (2020) and will especially speak to young people who are dealing with similar educational, familial, and interpersonal pressures.

An emotionally honest and self-reflective debut. (Verse memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780063296008

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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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

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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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