A story about gender that is sure to elicit controversy among its target audience.

KISSES FOR JET

A COMING-OF-GENDER STORY

It’s 1999, and Jet is exploring their identity.

As tweens, Nirvana fans Jet and Sasha meet and strike up a friendship. At 16, Dutch Jet is experiencing the confusion of puberty and coming to terms with their sexuality and evolving gender. With their parents in Brussels working on fixing the millennium bug, Jet is sent to a boardinghouse with other students from their international school. Bullied by fellow boarder Stef, Jet navigates friendship, a first kiss, and experimenting with their gender presentation in the lead-up to the new millennium, but they’re not without support, as both Sasha and new kid Ken have their back. Charming moments, such as Jet’s pasting together images of themself and Kurt Cobain to explore their gender, contrast with incidents such as Jet’s binding unsafely using a bandage. Given the emphasis on genitals by transphobic elements in society, the lack of context in two scenes in particular is troubling: one in which Jet attempts to urinate standing up, with panels showing close-up frontal images of their genitals, and two ambiguous lines of dialogue that may be intended to signal that Jet is intersex. The muted color palette of mostly blue with the odd splash of pink serves to represent Jet’s feelings about their gender. This work is a mixed bag that will provoke strongly different reactions in readers.

A story about gender that is sure to elicit controversy among its target audience. (Graphic fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-913123-03-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2022

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A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon.

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

A gay teen contends with time travel—and homophobia through the decades.

All Cuban American Luis wants is to be prom king with his boyfriend, but tiny upstate New York boarding school Antic Springs Academy, with its strict, Christian code of conduct, won’t even let them hold hands in public. After a disastrous prom committee meeting at which his attempt to make the event welcoming of queer couples is rejected by the principal, Luis gets quite literally knocked into the past—specifically, ASA in the year 1985. There he meets Chaz, a Black student who attended the school at the same time as Luis’ parents and who died under mysterious circumstances after being bullied for his sexuality. Luis now faces a choice between changing the past to help Chaz and preserving his own future existence. Fortunately, he has Ms. Silverthorn, a Black English teacher and beloved mentor, who offers him support in both timelines. The narrative explores the impacts of homophobia and being closeted, remaining optimistic without shying away from the more brutal aspects. Luis is a multifaceted character with an engaging voice whose flaws are confronted and examined throughout. The solid pacing and pleasant, fluid prose make this a page-turner. Luis’ boyfriend is cued as Chinese American, and his best friend is nonbinary; there is some diversity in ethnicity and sexuality in background characters, although the school is predominantly White.

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0710-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Sweet, honest, and filled with personality.

SHE GETS THE GIRL

Many begin college with hopes of personal reinvention, and Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker are no exception.

Apparently opposite in every way, both girls nevertheless arrive for their freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh with the same goal in mind: to fundamentally change the way others perceive them and get their dream girls. Easy-peasy. Molly, whose mom is a transracial adoptee from Korea and whose father is assumed White, was socially anxious in high school. She worries that her close friendship with her mother holds her back. Willowy, blond Alex, who is implied White, has never once found herself at a loss in a social situation, and yet her fairy-tale story of adolescent beauty and wit is tempered by having a single mom whose struggles with alcohol abuse meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. Utilizing tried and true tropes, married couple Lippincott and Derrick cut right to the heart of the matter when it comes to the mysteries of romance. Queerness itself is never the motivator of the drama, and gratifyingly, both girls find in one another the means to explore and unpack complexities of life unrelated to their sexualities. Nothing is made simplistic—not Alex’s relationship to self-expression and conventional beauty standards, nor Molly’s experiences of culture and community in a world that has expectations of her based on her racial identity.

Sweet, honest, and filled with personality. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9379-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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