FICTION

Things We Couldn’t Say

Scholastic. Sept. 2021. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338734188.
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Gr 9 Up–When Gio was in fifth grade, his mother walked out the door, leaving him behind with his little brother and intolerant pastor father. Now she has unexpectedly made contact, throwing Gio’s life into chaos. Recently out to his best friends as bisexual, Gio’s life is further complicated by the arrival of David, a new student and starter on his basketball team. Gio and David’s relationship builds slowly and organically from friendship to romance as the two work through tension surrounding their experiences of racism (Gio is Black and David is white) and comfort level in being fully out. Gio’s friends Ayesha, who is Black, and Olly, who is white, are supportive and help carry authentic, multidimensional discussions about privilege, homophobia, and parental abandonment through the narrative. This book is accessible and easy to digest, and the author tackles big issues. Gio is often stereotyped and treated with hostility or pity by his white teachers, and his concerns about lack of diversity in the curriculum are brushed off. A candid look at the deep-seated trauma left behind by an absent parent and the importance of found family, this is ultimately a warm, genuine read.
VERDICT A first choice for high school libraries and highly recommended for fans of Nic Stone.

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