A Queer History of the United States for Young People

Beacon. Jun. 2019. 336p. adapted by adapted by Richie Chavet. bibliog. glossary. index. photos. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780807056127.
Gr 7 Up–This adaptation for teens of the author’s 2012 Stonewall Award–winning A Queer History of the United States is doubly valuable; it serves well as a general read and fills a clear curricular need. Each carefully selected profile bolsters the case for queer leadership and activism as a driving force of progress. Captioned photos, helpful sidebars, and short chapters encourage browsing. Bronski is definitive about relationships being romantic or sexual only when there is evidence for that having been the case; he carefully avoids imposing current terminology or concepts on the featured individuals. Without diminishing the risk involved in challenging societal norms, the author shows how there were, even within other eras, cultural messages/spaces that allowed for what the status quo would now consider non-heterosexual behavior. Heartbreak, aging, and blind spots, in theory, are addressed as thoroughly as successes and legacies. There are a few flaws in the glossary: the use of “sex-reassignment” surgery (rather than gender confirmation) in relation to transgender individuals, and a definition of asexuality that equivocates about whether it is a sexual orientation or a temporary feeling. The explanatory tone and frequent definitions in this edition may feel awkward at times to the intended audience of older teens but could increase its usefulness for slightly younger readers. A good companion to Pénélope Bagieu’s Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World and Sarah Prager’s Queer, There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World.
VERDICT An overall successful adaptation of an important work, rich with content relevant to all disciplines and beyond.

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