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Garden, who has won both the Lambda Book Award and the Margaret A. Edwards Award, offers an accessible narrative history of the changing rights and social status of gay and lesbian teens told through essays and short stories. Beginning with the 1950s, each essay describes a decade in broad political and social terms with references to specific events pertinent to GLBT adults and teens of the period. Each essay is followed by a pair of stories, written by Garden and set during the decade featured in the essay. Although the essays reflect the experiences of both men and women, the majority of the stories are about young, middle-class lesbians who live on the East Coast of the U.S. Still, the stories show how fiction can reveal truths more gracefully than nonfiction. The issues and questions will reach out to all teens, making it easier for contemporary youth, whether GLBT or straight, to imagine the past. --Francisca Goldsmith Copyright 2007 Booklist
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Perfect for the park or the back porch, these short story collections focus on various aspects of growing up, from the silly to the serious. Hear Us Out: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present by Nancy Garden consists of 18 stories that trace the experiences of gay youth over the past half century. Organized by decade, Garden's book provides readers with a diversity of touching stories, and she contextualizes her characters' experiences with extensive analysis of the social, political and historical events of the decades as well. (FSG, $18 240p ages 12-up ISBN 9780-374-31759-1; June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-No one can question Garden's ability to pen a breathy, urgent lesbian romance full of passion and strife. Her first offering in this anthology is nothing short of that: two girls, Angela and Elizabeth, eke out a swoony romance in letters to one another in 1952, a time when their relationship would never be accepted. In a later selection, two boys journey to New York City for a date-only to witness the Stonewall Riots. And, in another, a correspondence between two queer cousins ends in asphyxiation, a potent reminder of the days when most LGBTQ teen books ended with a car crash. This well-intended compilation is prefaced by a historical record of the climate of each decade since 1950. But, interestingly enough, the early stories are the most fully realized with well-rounded characters finding real love in spite of their circumstances. Many of the others feel trapped in the decades within which they're embedded. All of the stories are identity-based: teens discover who they are, who their friends and family members are, and what society at that time thinks of them. Isolation reigns, and only in the last few stories do readers see characters finding community. While the book will certainly pique the interests of teen-lit historians, it feels lost and outdated, and teen readership and appeal may be harder to find. Garden's stories resurrect the darker side of LGBTQ life. Homophobia, censorship, and violence sadly still make national headlines, to be sure, but polls show that today's teenagers are the most tolerant generation yet. They crave stories about themselves and their future.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.