Can’t Take That Away

Bloomsbury. Mar. 2021. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781547605309. POP.
Gr 9 Up–Salvatore’s debut is the genderqueer older sibling to Alex Gino’s middle grade novel George that readers didn’t know they were missing. Carey is navigating high school as a white genderqueer student, with supportive family, friends, and a favorite teacher to back them up. However, that proves to not be enough to appease the school’s homophobic tenured teacher when he demands that Carey be removed as the star of the school production of Wicked. Carey manages to stand up against this injustice with the support of old and new friends, all while learning about the highs and lows of love. While this book depicts support and love, it also tackles heavy topics such as suicide, death, bullying, and severe homophobia. Each chapter identifies the pronouns that Carey is feeling/using that day, and readers unfamiliar with what being genderqueer is will find this very helpful to understand that different days someone may feel like using she, him, or they (all are used throughout the book). With few titles about genderqueer teens, hopefully this will become one of many.
VERDICT A fresh voice + a genderqueer teen + one Wicked musical + fighting against the establishment + first love = A page-turning YA debut. Recommended for all YA collections.

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