Book Reviews, LGBTQIA+, Nonfiction

Note To Self by Connor Franta

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When I read A Work in progress I was surprised by how much I was able to get out of it. I’m always skeptical with memoirs written by younger people. Especially someone younger than I am if only by one or two years. I was again impressed by Connor Franta with this second book.

I like the way Connor tells a story. He has an open and honest feel to him. He states his opinions without them feeling like he’s trying to force you to agree with what he feels. He can look at moments of his life and in reflecting on them pull out a lesson that he gained or wish he knew at the time. He has a wiseness that is beyond his years.

Plus there is the photography. The photos in this book were extra striking. Like I wish I could take photos as good as the ones Connor takes. In some books with photography. The photos are glanced at and you move right on to the writing. I really stopped to look at the photos here. Especially when they linked in really well to the prose or poetry Connor had with it. By the way, Connor’s poetry was excellent in this book.I would read an entire poetry book from him. I was so there for it.

A lot of what Connor talks about in this book is really relatable for me too. I’ve talked about an experience that many queer people have in common in the past that Connor also addresses here. Having your first relationships, romantic or otherwise, in much later years than your straight peers. Possibly because you weren’t out or because you weren’t in an environment with anyone else to start those relationships with in your high school or college years.

Connor talks about experiencing that here and I could definitely relate to the way he talked about it. He wasn’t out in high school. He came out in the last few years. It’s a different experience just because of where you are in your life.  The emotions involved in those first relationships and the way you approach people you are interested in changes for people over time.Plus the way you experience break ups and heartbreaks. Connor experiences a major breakup while writing this book.

Connor experiences a major breakup while writing this book. The emotional devastation he experiences is written about in such a grabbing way. He’s just honest about what he was feeling and you can tell he hoped writing something would help him. I think anyone who has experienced a breakup that really affected them can relate. The poetry and photos in that section shined even more. This is a book where I could not contain my emotions as I read. I let out a bit of a scream at one point because I was relating and empathizing too much with what was happening.

Connor also talks about his experience with depression. He talks about his first time going to therapy. I love seeing people talking about these experiences and letting people know it is okay to do that. I think a lot of people don’t like the stigma associated with things and are afraid to talk about their problems. Some people are afraid to try therapy because of some of that stigma. I always appreciate seeing this in books. Loved seeing a real person talk about their experiences with it.

This was another excellent book from Connor. Excited to see what he does next. Just started listening to his curated music playlists on Spotify. They are so good. Plus, I am now checking out his Instagram whenever I can because those photos are just too good. Wishing him the best in his next few years. I hope he is able to keep growing and learning from life.

 

LGBTQIA+, YA

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

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I’m in love with this book. It’s definitely my favorite read of the month right now. We follow three characters on the day of the terrorist attack on the two towers in New York. These are three teenagers that live in New York and all experience this event in different ways. I always think Levithan does an amazing job with alternating chapters. These three characters seem like they have no connection at first but all know each other in some way. Gave me Realm of Possibility feels. I liked it. It was able to take you through their experiences on the day of the event then go on to inspire the reader and lift them up.

Claire is a great character. From the first chapter in her perspective, I knew her experience with everything would be different. Claire’s personal journey is really well written. You know that her experiences on 9/11 are going to change her but I didn’t expect the extent that it does. She has some of the more intense passages in this book for me as she’s trying to figure out what to do. How do you move on as a city after something like this? As a country?

There is a moment in the opening of the book where I realize how strong Claire can be. She really holds it together for her younger brother and the kids in his classroom. When she lets herself feel and these intense moments come later and when she lets herself say what all she is feeling to one of the other characters it’s really wonderful. Claire puts in whatever effort she can to make things better in the world. I honestly love this character so much. Claire finds a connection to other people. She seeks out others who are affected in the way that she is.

Two of the three main characters in this book are gay. I didn’t know that going in but it’s a David Levithan book so I should have expected a little gay. Was very happy to have it.  Peter and Jasper are both great characters. They both change a lot because of the events of 9/11 like Claire do. Even if they are in completely different ways.

Peter is so hopeful and innocent in the beginning to me.I really get that impression.He’s the type of character I root for in books. He’s a gay guy who was just super excited about going on a date with a guy he met at a party. He was just hoping for a great experience with someone he’d awkwardly flirted with at a party. Then he runs down the street from his favorite store and sees the first tower of the World Trade Building collapse. His immediate disconnect from what is his norm there was poignant. He isn’t able to play his music when he walks toward school. I loved that part of Peter’s process. His grieving or finding a way to move on process involved music. Music can really help people get through things. I find that so relatable. Music is a big part of my life. His experience at a concert a few days after 9/11 was so nicely written. The camaraderie of the people who still showed up to this show was beautiful.

Jasper wakes up on the day of 9/11 to a phone call from his parents who are visiting his grandmother in Korea. I feel like Jasper is in some ways the most lost of the three characters. I feel like Jasper isn’t sure of his place in things before 9/11 happens. He seems like he’s waded through life. He hasn’t lived much or decided who he is or wants to be. I feel like thinking about all the lives lost really impacts him. Jasper even feels separate from what other people around him are feeling because his experience on 9/11 was very different from most of the people that he knows. It’s definitely different from Peter and Claire. Even though he lives in New York he experiences a lot of the after effect.he doesn’t see the planes hit. He’s not on the streets trying to get away from the wreckage or worrying about where his family is. He’s safe. His parents are away. He doesn’t know what to do or how to feel. As the story goes on I really started to like Jasper and the changes I saw in him.

I can’t even explain what I felt about Jasper and Peter fully. I shipped it so hard but also so hesitantly. Having a first date the day after 9/11 is not the best sign. I still wanted it to work so bad. I love both of the characters. I said before that I could see all these characters were somewhat lost after what happened. Jasper and Peter needed different things in order to find themselves again.Things they needed to find separately. Still, they are able to help each other in small ways. They are so different at the end of the book than they are at the beginning and I love them.

Claire bridges the gap between the three main characters of this book. I feel like she brings the group together. They all know each other in passing small ways. I feel like Claire ultimately is the force that brings three people who need each other together. They find something special. All three of these characters gain something from each other. Something they need to help them along on their journey. Claire really is able to glue them together over time. She keeps that connection to both of them because it’s something she needs. These are two people who have helped her by just listening and understanding. All three characters are different people by the end of the book.

This book left me in a light mood. It was so hopeful. It made you have faith in people. It’s truly excellent. Really happy I finally got around to reading it. I was hesitant because of the topic and I had taken out from the library once in the past without ever picking it up. I’m so glad that I did not do that this time. I definitely recommend you give this book a chance.

 

ARC's, diverse books

Assassins: Nemesis Review

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I didn’t know what I was getting into with this story but I must say I enjoyed it quite a lot. Not at first. I tried reading it a while back and wasn’t able to get into it but I think now was the right time for it.

It’s a crazy action packed story. We’ve got espionage and assassins galore. You really get thrown into it in the first chapter and need to read past there to allow things to settle before getting back into action. Blake is going through all of it pretty suddenly and just making their way through. We are along on the journey with them.

Blake is not an Assassin. I believe the first book followed someone raised to kill. That is not Blake. Blake is after the people who put the hit on their father but not fully ready for the harsh realities. The uncomfortableness when they first shoot someone is the first indicator of that. They continue to shy away from violence when the people around them are more prone to using it in missions. it was interesting to see these spy operations through Blake’s perspective.

I liked that inclusions of talk about sexuality just happened. It’s part of life. You don’t need a reason to make Blake genderfluid or intersex.This book has an intersex protagonist without being about being intersex and I love that so much.They just are. We don’t need to put too much more focus on it than that in this story. It’s just part of Blake’s life. I think that was the best way to go with a plot that had so much going on already. Staying committed to the plot and to the character by showing all that is a part of them.

Blake identifies as “mixed race, multiethnic, allergic to more things than I want to name, intersex because of partial androgen sensitivity syndrome, expressively genderfluid but mentally agender, and panromantic graysexual.” Blake states what her/his pronouns are at the time and we keep going. I like that a lot. Also, Daelen and the others asked so they wouldn’t misgender her/him. They cared and it was really nice.

I was excited to see a romance blooming for a genderfluid character as well. I could ship Daelan and Blake. Not sure if I do ultimately but I could. I feel like the connection is surprisingly strong and well-written. They just meet right at the beginning of this and it works. It’s really only a thing I’ve started seeing in books I read this year for genderfluid characters. It’s also a romance with a gray ace character. I loved that so much. I felt like it was presented well. It made me so happy.

I loved the characters and the way that the author handled them in this so I’m really happy I’ve had the opportunity to read this. I fell like it’s something I could reread. Also, I have to say that the Shakespeare nerd in me got real happy about some things in this book. Shakespeare references will get me every time.

Book Reviews, diverse books, YA

The Hate U Give Book Thoughts

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Angie Thomas delivers a fresh and extremely real story here. I feel like this is a book that so many people could benefit from reading. It could be timeless. Many important discussions can be had from the book. This book ties into current events and I feel like it’s a book many people can really get something from. This book really makes you feel things.

I also have to say that Thomas does an amazing job at taking us on this journey. Such a variety in scenes all handled really well. It’s pretty straight forward. Here’s what’s happening. Here is what Starr is feeling. It works. Starr witnesses a friend who is unarmed get gunned down by police. It’s intense topic. There are scenes and moments where you feel so frustrated for Starr and what she is going through throughout.

Thomas finds moments to fit in humor that works really well. I can go from being frustrated by Starr and her situation. Feeling frustration for her family. Anger over the reactions of some people. Then have these moments where things are lighter. I can laugh along with Starr. Part of that was how relatable Star situation was. How similar Starr’s family and friends were to people in my life.

Starr is s relatable to me throughout this book in many ways.  Hiding parts of yourself depending on the group you are hanging out with. The vulnerability Starr feels in certain situations that weren’t that different from some things in my past. Her connection and love for her family. Her relationship with her boyfriend Chris. The emotions she expresses as she deals with loss. Sometimes I felt like I related to so much to what was happening.

I’ve talked about crappy YA families this year on too many occasions. The family Dynamics in The Hate U Give are amazing. I could not believe how much time we were getting to see the way this family worked. An unconventional family maybe but it’s a family that was relatable to me so many times throughout this book. You have a group of people who are not perfect but they take care of each other and love each other. You can feel the love coming off the page. There is nothing Starr’s parents would not do to protect their kids. You don’t even have to be a blood relative to them for them to treat you like family either. I loved that.

The sense of community at times in this story was amazing. Moments where you saw people really coming together like a family.Even with their differences.  Even when they’ve been fighting for so long. There are these moments that were beautiful to see.

I loved Staar and Chris’ relationship.I felt like there was such a nice arc for it in this. I saw the way they struggled and related to some of the things they struggled with. I’m in an interracial relationship and even if my experiences were not exactly the same as Starr’.Some definitely were. I have family who talked down about black people who decide to date someone that is white growing up. Off hand comments from family growing up caused me to be a lot more cautious than was good for me with revealing many things about myself. While seeing the way Starr took that in and made decisions based on it all I could do was nod along because I’ve been there.

This story is one of the most real stories I’ve read in a while.I love that this book had a   13 publishing house auction, I love that people knew this was a book that needed to get out there. I hope this book continues to get so much love. If you haven’t picked up this book I definitely think you should. I highly recommend it.

Book Reviews, diverse books, Retellings, YA

As I Descended by Robin Talley

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I want to start off this review by saying that Macbeth is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread it or watched productions of it now. It’s too many to count. I think that me being so familiar with Macbeth was good and bad with reading this retelling. I was prepared for the ends of certain characters and that ended up being a good thing for me at times. I went into it hoping to love the characters and the story as much as I do with the play.

I also knew that it would be a play that would be difficult to make modern with the supernatural elements. In the early part of Macbeth, he gets a prophecy from three witches. You quickly see that spirits are going to be involved with this retelling. Spirits that have talked to Maria (Macbeth) since she was a child. I will say never mess with ouija boards. I’ve said it in past post and I’ll say it again. Don’t do it. I’d rather we had dealt with witches over spirits tbh. This school being haunted for whatever reason didn’t work for me. The spirits needed to keep pushing things in this text which is a change that didn’t help. The witches are really only at the beginning of Macbeth even if their prophecy impacts the entirety of it.

I also have to say that in the latter half of the book there is a major disconnect with the main characters of Lily and Maria. The spirit element almost gets too far to really feel what is happening to the characters. I still feel connected to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth through all the insanity that happens with them in Macbeth. So it was disappointing to not be able to get that same feel in this retelling. That disconnect is truly unfortunate because it definitely took away from the story for me.

Our Macbeth is a gay girl named Maria who ask for the spirits help to get a scholarship that is going to be rewarded to Delilah. That aspect actually worked for me. Somehow becoming the most popular person in school and gaining a major scholarship works as a motive to off your competition Macbeth style. I don’t know why but it did.

Robin Talley made me care for Brandon as a character enough for what happens to him to really bother me. I applaud that because I don’t care about Banquo much when reading Macbeth normally. Unless highlighting or thinking about Banquo’s significance for Macbeth going forward in the play. Brandon was a very compelling character. I cared about him a lot in this. He’s a good hearted person like his Shakespearean counterpart. This modern version is also queer, however. He’s in a relationship with Matteo and shows that he has some body image issues in the text. I felt like he was made so relatable. It’s interesting to think about Macbeth from Banquo’s perspective. As Banquo sees changes in Macbeth and reacts to them. Thinking about the other elements od Banquo’s life. I’m really happy we got his perspective but I also think it changed the way I viewed other characters in this retelling.

I’m a fan of the Macbeths. You know they have to lose in Macbeth because it’s a tragedy but they are brilliant villains to follow throughout the text and what compels you to continue the story. Maria and Lily were not that in this text for me. I was much more interested in Mateo’s story. I never thought much about the character of Macduff but I loved Talley’s modern version of the character. He just worked so well. You wanted to see him succeed more than anything else. Brandon being developed the way he was enforced that as well.

Lady Macbeth is really one of my favorite characters in Shakespeare and love to read studies on the character. I was a little disappointed with Lily’s descent into madness. I felt like I really wanted more from it. I wanted it to work well like it does in Macbeth. Lily has a disability and I thought it was presented well. I liked the way it affected how she felt with the other students. Lily wanted higher status and it did raise the stakes for her. Talley made it play into Lady Macbeth well. I did appreciate that difference but just wanted more from the character. To feel like that agency lady Macbeth originally has even more here.

4 of the 5 perspectives you get in this story are queer characters. The 4 main are people in m/m or f/f relationships. Several die of course because this is a mostly accurate Shakespeare retelling. I applaud Talley on how she was able to get a lot of the story transferred over while bringing new diverse elements to the story. Matteo deserves all the happiness in the world. I really loved following him as a relatable queer male character. Plus he is Hispanic like a few other characters in the cast. The diverse elements did draw me to the story and I did appreciate it a lot.

Overall I did enjoy the story. I really like all the things that Talley brought to the retelling and that you can see how much she tried to stay true to Macbeth. The inclusion of these very diverse characters was done really naturally and they worked for the retelling being in a school setting. There is a lot that I wanted more from this story but overall it’s definitely worth trying out.

 

Small Spoilery After Thoughts

SPOILER WARNING

Spoiler Warning

SPOILER WARNING

Queer people outing other queer people is really getting on my nerves in text or anyone being outed for that matter. It didn’t seem like it was necessary in the case of Matteo and that was definitely another drop for this story with me.

 

Book Reviews, YA

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

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I listened to the majority of this book on audiobook although I started it by reading the physical book and read some of the physical copy in-between. I’ve read Barry Lyga in high school and enjoyed his writing then. When I found this book in my library and read the concept I was interested.

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a teenager in an average town. He has a loyal best friend and an awesome girlfriend. But he’s also the son of an infamous serial killer. Jazz’s father is in jail now but Jazz deals with the fact that he was way more immersed in his father’s secret life than he should have been. He witnessed aspects of his father’s murders. The cleanup after a kill. The trophy room. His father taught him how to be a serial killer. He learned about the human body and how to take it apart. He learned different ways to incapacitate someone. Ways to manipulate your victim into trusting you. Then his father was arrested and he was supposed to be a normal teenager.

He is for the most part. When someone starts killing in their small town again and the murders are just like his father’s people start to suspect him. Jazz has to clear his name. I felt like this was more about Jazz proving that he didn’t have to be like his father. He wanted to prove that he could use all the mess up stuff his father taught him to help people instead of hurt.To everyone else but mostly to himself. All the similarities he has to his father scares him. It’s what fuels him to find and stop this killer and was something I was excited to follow

Jazz’s relationship with his girlfriend Connie is important for a lot of reasons. Jazz wants to treat women differently than his father taught him. He doesn’t want to manipulate and think of them as play things or easily breakable. His father really messed with Jazz’s head and you see that early on. I liked how Connie gets involved with helping him figure out who the next victim may and isn’t completely removed from Jazz’s investigation.  I didn’t mention that his girlfriend is black either which leads to issues with how Jazz has to deal with his grandmother if his girlfriend is coming over. The line of what is okay and what isn’t is blurry with Jazz at times. Without giving anything away that was one moment where I had to pause for a second.

Jazz’s best friend Howie is a hemophiliac. I have hemophilia and I do not see many characters with hemophilia in books. It was a surprise when that came up for me. I really liked Howie. He’s adorable. He’s also so loyal. Like ridiculously loyal.There would not be that many people I would go to a potential murder with. Especially as a person with a bleeding disorder. I was so concerned with Howie making it out of these books alive.

Honestly a little obsessed with reading from Jasper’s perspective right now. It’s kind of mesmerizing being in his head. It’s intense throughout the book. Not sure if I’m ready for the next book but I need the next book at the same time. I think this is a trilogy that I’m actually going to finish. Can’t wait to get started on the next one. Probably on audiobook since I thought this first book was fantastic on audiobook.

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee Review

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I enjoyed the story for sure. I had a hard time not questioning the logistics of the world but questions aside it is really interesting. A solar flare gave a lot of people powers. Meta Humans galore. They are classed at different levels with the higher level becoming superheroes. It is really interesting but felt like I needed more detail still.

I love the representation in the story. I don’t read many books with bisexual main characters in this kind of genre. Jess is also an Asian protagonist. I’m all about superhero stories with QPOC characters. It was great to see how her family’s background affected their life in different ways.I also like the way the main relationship went overall. It was a cute pairing. Felt a bit too fluffy for the story at times but it was nice.

There was too hinting sometimes. I figured out a lot of things really easily. I think the first reveal that Jess has no clue about is something that yeah the reader is probably supposed to figure out. If not it was okay that I did. It was a type of dramatic irony knowing the thing that Jess didn’t.I feel like the other reveals may have had too much laid out too, though. I wanted less predictable in those later chapters.

So Jess has it pretty rough in this book after things really kick off. The twist and turns n her life are a lot to handle and she really handles it pretty well. I also felt like there was a definite hero journey for her that coincided with her deciding she wanted to be her own person. She wasn’t going to live in the shadow of her family or just do what they wanted her to do in order to get by.She is going to do things for herself.

There also is a trans character in this story named Bells. It looks like he will be the main character of the sequel. I’m excited to see the continuation of the group’s story in the following book for sure.

I really wish more had happened by the end of this one or that more have been accomplished. Even knowing that there will be another book I was a bit dissatisfied with the end. The sequel does come out this year so I hope I’m able to get it sooner rather than later. It looks like it will be focusing on Bells like I said. I am glad I read this. Jess is a great main character and I hope she and everyone else makes some major progress dealing with the situation they are all in next time.

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, YA

History is All You Left Me Review

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silver is the second book chosen for The Rainbow Library.A landslide in the voting. A lot of members were excited about the book release.I’m really glad it was chosen as well. I was a big fan of More Happy Than Not and had the History Is All You Left Me book pre-ordered. I was going to wait a bit longer to dive into but I’m glad this group gave me the push to do it now.Apologizing now if this review gets too scattered. I took lots of notes.

This story intrigued me right away with the setup. You jump into the story and realize that the chapters will alternate between the present and the past.History and Today. We have a main character that is flawed in some ways too. I’m  talking about the way he handles a lot of the relationships in his life. I could see that it wasn’t the best right away. Especially after seeing how great Griffin’s relationship with Wade and Theo is in the first few history chapters. It’s so interesting trying to connect the history Griff gives us to his present. I was always looking for the clues to see how things came to be this way. Trying to figure out who is at fault for things before history could catch up with the present more.

I have to say I was surprised by how much I loved the history chapters. They start the day that Theo and Griffin admit their feelings for each other,  goes through their relationship and ends on the day that Theo dies. There were so many beautiful moments in their relationship and it really was bittersweet to read knowing that they eventually break up and that Theo dies. The first few history chapters really drew me in and I was excited that I was going to really enjoy those flashbacks.

Early on I wondered how reliable Griffin was as a narrator for not only the history sections. It was a small moment during the funeral of Theo that made me think it. It was just a perspective thing. The way he saw Jackson and how I could tell he blamed Jackson for Theo’s death to some extent. It made him think that other people might see Jackson similarly when that wasn’t the case. It was the first point where I realized there would definitely be some bias with anything revolving Jackson in the history or today part.

One really interesting thing about Griffin as a narrator is that he’s talking to Theo. The whole story is Griffin going over his history with Theo and also telling Theo the things he didn’t know. The things he wanted to but didn’t get a chance to. The “you” he references in the today sections is Theo.He models his actions toward Jackson based on what Theo would want him to do. If Theo would be disappointed in him. I saw it as another way for him to process Theo’s death. Believing that somehow Theo might be out there listening to him. A little odd considering that it’s pointed out that Griffin isn’t religious like Jackson.

Griffin has OCD. I really can’t comment much on the way it’s written besides that it feels accurate. I have a family member that has OCD and I grew up watching them deal with their compulsions. Compulsions that are very different from what Griffin’s are, though.His compulsions dealt with counting and even numbers. He always had to walk on one side of people or he became anxious. I liked the way it was shown throughout the story.I liked the way the people in his life reacted differently to it as well.

This story had what I call the January problem now. It’s where you only see a character through flashback and don’t always get the info you want. January from Last Seen Leaving was a character I had this kind of issue with. Theo can’t tell his story. Griffin has to tell it for him. Jackson and others can share stories of him but they can’t tell us what Theo was thinking. I really just wished I could get in his head. I got to the point in the history chapters where I had some questions. Theo, what are you doing? Do you really think you can stay friends with Griffin and be with Jackson? Do you not see how messy this situation is? Why are you a mess? Plus so many more questions as I realize things that Theo did or said. It’s not a problem that takes anything away from the story for me. I just will have those questions forever.

The last sixty or eighty pages I would read a page. Then stop to process because I needed to before reading another page.It was a long process. Sometimes I would lean against a wall or pace. Adam Silvera takes you on these really emotional roller coasters in his work. The situation between this group of guys was so messy and that was before Theo died. It really just gets worse. There were definitely some cringe moments because I didn’t want to think about how I’d handle the situations they were going through.  Pg 225 I for sure wasn’t ready for. I could not. I still cannot.I didn’t even know how I kept going toward the end right after that.

I really can’t knock this story rating down for anything that happens. There are things that were frustrating but it wasn’t frustrations that would affect the rating I’d give the book.If the situation was different these things would. I’m never a fan of people doing things to emotionally hurt people. Griff definitely does that at points in this story and I feel like Jackson does as well.Griff makes some bad decisions in his History with Theo that might make him unlikeable for people. Theo might be unlikeable for you.However, this was a story about people grieving over the death of someone they loved. It’s completely true that there were moments where I definitely have a problem with things done. Especially by the main character Griffin but all his emotions and actions were valid.This form of grieving was valid. Not right necessarily but it was valid. He’s in a rough spot and you see that throughout the entire book. I went along on this journey with Griffin knowing that he was going to possibly make some bad decisions.

There were chapters early on where I wished we could see more of Wade. I think it’s because I loved Wade in the chapters in the past. He was a great friend and added something to those scenes before Theo and Griffin start pushing him out a little unintentionally.I also wondered why he became more distant. What did Theo do or say to push his best friend away? Another question I had. Later in the story, we do finally get to see what’s going on with Wade. I have to say that there are things about Wade that I related to in a this is hurting my soul kind of way. I really wish we could have seen more of his character. Jackson and Griffin get to m0urn together for a big portion of this story. Wade mourns his friend alone and that is really rough.

I have to applaud Silvera on somehow throwing in a subtle twist that was just as jarring as the twist in More Happy Than Not even if on a smaller scale. More Happy Than Not had a sci-fi element.The thing that shocked me there was a big deal. History is All You left Me is just all real and still had these emotionally jarring moments that are so brilliant and unexpected. Adam Silvera is really becoming one of my favorite authors really quickly.I’m excited for his next book They Both Die At The End.I know I will likely be a complete emotional wreck after that one but I don’t mind that when it’s an Adam Silvera book. This story comes out to a 5-star read for me.

Book Reviews, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, The Rainbow Library, YA

None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio

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None of The Above was the first book chosen for The Rainbow Library. On the Rainbow Library, you can see member reviews of the book the entire week starting January 23rd. We chose the novel because it focuses on a part of the LGBTQIA = community that we don’t often read about or see people talking about.

This book follows a teenager named Kristen who finds out that she is intersex during a trip to the hospital. Kristen has to deal with what that means for herself personally. She has a lot of fear and confusion about her diagnosis.She confides in her friends and family. However, things really blow up when her secret is leaked to the entire school.

I enjoy the story. I just have some problems getting into it. I think the novel explains what intersex is and what it means to be intersex really well.You also learn about AIS and DSD.If you are looking for a book to get you more familiar with what intersex is I definitely recommend this. The novel has me interested in reading more books with intersex characters as well.

The book contains resources where you can get more information. I always have to point out when a book does a great job at doing that. You never know who will be needing those resources and it’s great that the book contains several. There are some fiction and non-fiction book recommendations that include and intersex characters and talk about what intersex is in the back of the book as well.

One of the main reasons this book didn’t hook me is because Kristen can be really annoying in this story at times. So can her friends and boyfriend. This is before she even finds out that she is intersex.The story is first person perspective from her perspective. She’s 18 I believe. There may have been just the age gap thing. The way she thinks about things or talks about things was a bit much sometimes. I thought she was much younger than 18 at points in the novel.

I didn’t feel bad when things go sour in the novel with the boyfriend because I really did not like him from the beginning. The way he said certain things rubbed me the wrong way. Again before Kristen even finds out she’s intersex.It really only gets worse from there. So I found it hard to think it was the end of the world like Kristen seemed to feel over the breakup.

You get more and more angry as the book goes on because of how much Kristen goes through. I felt like the book picks up through the middle for me. Kristen experience so much hate and bigotry and I think the way she handled it was realistic considering the fact that she’s never experienced anything like this before.

One really great thing is the relationships with some people in her corner. She has a solid support system there even when things are falling apart around her. Even if she doesn’t see how much they are there for her at times. Favorite parent of the year award so far goes to her father figure in this. I’m only 8 books into this year but that’s still pretty good.

The romance was kind of meh. It was pretty obvious where things were going. Plus Kristen being way too hung up on her first boyfriend and annoyingly never being sure of what she wants.She makes some decisions for the wrong reasons in this story. She doesn’t think about herself when she should be making decisions for herself. I felt like the end of the story was abrupt but the last part did make me smile.

 

diverse books, LGBTQIA+

Juliet Takes A Breath Review

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Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

This is a really good novel.I think a lot of that is because of Juliet’s voice. She’s beautifully insightful in some moments of the book. She’s nerdy and quite funny at times too.Juliet is just a great character and it’s great to see how much she develops over the course of this novel in various areas of her life.

Juliet goes on a journey throughout the four parts of this book and I didn’t really get into the story until further along her journey but all of it is wonderful. Juliet takes this internship and doesn’t really know what she wants to get out of the experience. In the end, she got a lot more than she really thought she could. She has a place to move forward from.

This book starts out with Juliet in a stressful and relatable time. She’s coming out to her family. Juliet decides to do it at a family dinner. I like how much this book dealt with family. Even with Juliet away from them for a majority of the book you could see how important family was. Just from conversations with her mom or cousin Ava over the phone. Sometimes just from Juliet contemplating the way they reacted to things or might react to something. She thinks about her family often and I liked the focus on the family bonds.

Juliet meets some amazing women of color in this book. I felt like I was learning from Maxine and Zaira through Juliet’s encounters with them in the novel. This is a novel about feminism but more importantly intersectional feminism. Juliet is able to start figuring out where she stands in the feminism she sees on tv or reads in one of her favorite books. I absolutely loved the conversations Juliet has around this.

Sometimes as Juliet struggled I just wanted to jump in the book and answer things when she had questions she wasn’t asking anyone out loud yet.It takes her a while to feel the confidence needed to do more than just contemplate the tings she didn’t understand about queer terms or why Zaira made spaces specifically for women of color. I liked seeing Juliet learn and make mistakes while learning.Her exploration into all things queer and feminism. It was really well done.

Sidenote.There is a really odd character who is only in the story for a short time and never appears again and I didn’t understand the point of his words toward Juliet and couldn’t stop thinking what was the point there or if it was needed.Juliet never really thinks of him again after that section so it didn’t feel like it mattered.

The most relatable moment in this book for me was a feeling. The feeling that Juliet has when she is in an all QPOC space for the first time. She’s freer than she has been able to in a long time.No one is going to judge her or say the wrong thing. She won’t have to deal with microaggressions or blatant racism there. She is able to make decisions about how she perceives herself.

For me, that was an impromptu caucus for queer people of color at TheMidwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference. It was a room filled with QPOC and a space for us to talk about issues we face separate from all the other events of the conference.I didn’t even know there was that many of us in the conference. It was a major moment for me. I was dealing with not being able to embrace all aspects of my identity depending on the situation I was in. I had some rough school years and I feel like that was one of the moments that got me through. It changed things for me.It gave me perspective, I really needed.You see how much Juliet’s experience changes her on the final sections of the book.She’s able to take on the world after having run away from her problems before that. It’s great storytelling.