Cleverly humorous and extremely timely reading for those who seek renown.

SEMI-FAMOUS

A TRUE STORY OF NEAR CELEBRITY

An online comedian, author, and former Paralympian muses on fame and happiness.

Sundquist was tagged in an Instagram story by someone who described him as “this semi famous Internet comedian,” prompting a mix of pleasure at the recognition and discontent with its not entirely complimentary nature. He nonscientifically polled his followers, discovering that a third of them would prefer fame to happiness. His ensuing exploration of celebrity, illustrated with whimsical hand-drawn graphs, journeys from the days of Alexander the Great to present-day social media. After he fulfilled his childhood dream of appearing on MTV—a dream he was willing to repeatedly embarrass himself to achieve—the achievement thrust him into a multiyear depression. Sundquist, a White man who lost a leg to childhood cancer, briefly discusses how fame’s gatekeepers might have excluded or included him solely because he is an amputee. He also describes how contemporary virality exposed him to a TikTok disability truther who claimed he was faking his missing leg. Research studies and interviews with major and minor celebrities pepper this diverting narrative of fame’s traumas and rewards, and the whole is held together by Sundquist’s own journey to semi-fame. The exploration of fame’s darker side includes addiction and suicide but curiously never addresses exploitation or abuse despite Chapter 1’s opening epigraph from Britney Spears, one of the most famously abused celebrities.

Cleverly humorous and extremely timely reading for those who seek renown. (endnotes) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-62979-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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