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This collection succeeds in being truly inclusive. Editors Levithan (Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, reviewed May 1) and Merrell have carefully selected young people with various identities, from gay and bisexual to transgendered, who tell their own stories through essays, poems and, in one case, photography. The candor of these tales will immediately grab the attention of readers. Narrators range from a gay Boy Scout backpacking instructor to a college student in Iowa struggling to carve out an ambiguous gender ("My problem is that I don't want this `girl-thing' hanging over me. I'm caught between the effort of being a guy and the struggle to not forget where I'm from") to a girl finding the strength to tell her best friend that she loves her. Often heartbreaking, the stories also include plenty of difficult material, from physical abuse to homelessness, but also warm moments, such as a gay man remembering the night his older military-bound brother "telling me he loved me just the way I was." They can be funny, too (one gay student, who had always had a lot of female friends, begins carrying feminine hygiene products to school in order to show support for his girlfriends, something that "gained me the importance of a drug dealer"). The quality varies, but overall, readers will be impressed by the bravery of the young authors here, and the clarity with which they present their experiences. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-Using works submitted anonymously through the Web site the authors created in conjunction with the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Levithan and Merrell have selected 40 essays, mini-autobiographies, poems, and photographs that chronicle the lives of 21st-century young people, ages 13 to 23. The handsomely dense package includes real-life stories about coming out, falling in and out of love, mistaken identities, families and friends, misplaced affection, confronting homophobia, and more. A female-to-male transsexual teen describes a first trip into the men's restroom. A young man recalls his close relationship with a trash-talking, pot-smoking, horror-movie-loving burnout, illustrating the blurry lines that exist between romance and friendship. While nearly half of the installments tell the stories of young gay men, a sizable chunk is devoted to lesbians, and more than half a dozen pieces are about transgendered youth. While many of the stories recall memories of isolation, others delve into a young person's awareness and involvement in a queer community. As a whole, the collection is comprehensive, complex, and the perfect title to put into the hands of teens who approach the information desk asking for real stories about coming out and coming to terms with anything remotely GLBTQ.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.