Hold My Hand

Farrar. May 2019. 288p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374304867.
Gr 8 Up–Barakiva follows up One Man Guy with a highly satisfying sequel that continues to develop the authenticity and complexity of both Alek and Ethan. Alek isn’t yet ready to engage in sexual expression beyond kissing and cuddling, and Ethan doesn’t pressure him. However, it turns out that Ethan does cheat on Alek with an old flame. Worse, Alek discovers his own apparent lack of forgiveness. Alek’s story also delves realistically—and with some humor—into the stand he takes when his Orthodox pastor proves to be homophobic. In keeping with Alek’s teen boy worldview, the young people here are presented in balanced and realistic ways while most of the adults, and especially Alek’s parents, are suitably rendered as caricatures. Barakiva, indeed, has his finger on the pulse of how adolescents understand the most significant people in their lives and just barely manage to put up with the adults. This story shows the ways people can disappoint one another, break one another’s hearts, and get past such crises.
VERDICT A delightful and important addition to collections serving teens, whether or not the first book is held.

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