The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle (InfoSoup)
Quinn has always dreamed of being a Hollywood screenwriter and creating films with his sister Annabeth directing. Then Annabeth died. Now Quinn spends a lot of time in his room alone, not looking for the phone that has Annabeth’s final text to him on it sent right before she ran a red light. As summer starts, Quinn longs for air conditioning and his best friend Geoff shows up with a solution. It means that Quinn has to finally leave the house. It also means heading to his first college party where Quinn meets a very hot guy. As Quinn works to see his life playing out as a screenplay, life as other ideas.
Wow. Federle has a gift with voice. He has created in Quinn a gay teen boy who does not fit into any stereotype at all. Quinn is very smart, very sarcastic and amazingly self-centered. He could have been completely unlikable, but Federle has also made Quinn one of the most stunningly human protagonists of all time. Riddled with grief and unable to voice or even think about his loss, he hides from everyone but most particularly himself.
This is a profound look at grief, but it is also a book about being a gay teenager. It’s a book that thinks deeply about coming out to friends and family, finding out other people’s secrets, exploring new love. It’s a book where there is sex, gay teenage boy sex, and it is wonderfully awkward and normal.
Thank you to Federle for creating a gay protagonist where the book is not driven by the angst of being gay, but where sexual orientation is also not ever ignored as the important piece of life that it is. Beautifully done. Appropriate for ages 15-18.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Faulkner (InfoSoup)
This nonfiction picture book looks at all of the women critical to the suffrage movement in the United States. From Abigail Adam’s plea in 1776 for her husband to “remember the ladies” to Sojourner Truth’s attendance at a meeting to remind the white women of the movement that African-American women deserved the vote too, this book looks at the many voices of the movement with a particular focus on Elizabeth Cady Stanton who started the called on women in the mid-1800’s to fight for the right to vote. It is a dynamic book that will remind young readers that the right of women to vote in our country only happened in 1920.
Rappaport captures the tremendous tenacity that it took for women to fight actively for the right to vote for nearly 75 years. Moving in a vibrant way from one historical figure to another, Rappaport highlights not just those who were suffragists but also women who broke female stereotypes by becoming doctors and starting schools where women learned the same subjects men did. This global look at the movement demonstrates the number of ways it took to get changes made that would allow women to voice their own opinions through elections.
The illustrations have a humorous quality to them with near-caricatures of each of the women. There is a feel of a political cartoon to them which is particularly appealing given the subject matter. Their bright colors also help show the passion of the women and their drive to make change.
A great addition to public libraries, this book offers a neat package showing the full history for women’s right to vote. Appropriate for ages 7-10.
Reviewed from library copy.