MAKE LEMONADE

Wolff follows her rich portrait of a gifted young musician (The Mozart Season, 1991, ALA Notable) with a spare, beautifully crafted depiction of a 14-year-old whose goal of escaping poverty is challenged by friendship with a single teenage mother. With the support of her widowed mom, who's always made ends meet, LaVaughn sets her sights on college but knows she'll have to come up with the money herself. Taking a job caring for Jolly's babies while Jolly works, she's soon enmeshed in the young woman's problems—especially after Jolly is fired for spurning a harassing boss. Deeply concerned for the feckless, near- illiterate 17-year-old's welfare, LaVaughn is tempted to give her the money she's saved; yet (as marvelously encapsulated in LaVaughn's internal debate) she makes the tough decision that ``That won't help...I feel very mixed but my eyes stay steady.'' With difficulty (Jolly's too proud to ask for welfare and fears losing her children), she persuades her to enter a high-school program for young mothers. It's best for both—Jolly begins to ``take hold'' of her life—but bittersweet: while LaVaughn's grades go back up, she must relinquish her beloved charges. LaVaughn's narrative—brief, sometimes ungrammatical sentences in uneven lines, like verse—is in a credible teenage voice suited to readers like Jolly herself; yet it has the economy and subtlety of poetry. These girls could be from more than one ethnic group and almost any inner city—the setting is deliberately vague; but their troubles—explored in exquisite specificity—are universal. Hopeful—and powerfully moving. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8050-2228-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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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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With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the...

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THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR

Natasha and Daniel meet, get existential, and fall in love during 12 intense hours in New York City.

Natasha believes in science and facts, things she can quantify. Fact: undocumented immigrants in the U.S., her family is being deported to Jamaica in a matter of hours. Daniel’s a poet who believes in love, something that can’t be explained. Fact: his parents, Korean immigrants, expect him to attend an Ivy League school and become an M.D. When Natasha and Daniel meet, Natasha’s understandably distracted—and doesn’t want to be distracted by Daniel. Daniel feels what in Japanese is called koi no yokan, “the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them.” The narrative alternates between the pair, their first-person accounts punctuated by musings that include compelling character histories. Daniel—sure they’re meant to be—is determined to get Natasha to fall in love with him (using a scientific list). Meanwhile, Natasha desperately attempts to forestall her family’s deportation and, despite herself, begins to fall for sweet, disarmingly earnest Daniel. This could be a sappy, saccharine story of love conquering all, but Yoon’s lush prose chronicles an authentic romance that’s also a meditation on family, immigration, and fate.

With appeal to cynics and romantics alike, this profound exploration of life and love tempers harsh realities with the beauty of hope in a way that is both deeply moving and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-49668-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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