Destination Unknown

Scholastic. Sept. 2022. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338618051.
Gr 9 Up–Micah seemingly has every reason to be a comfortable, confident teenager in New York City—except the year is 1987, and he is well aware of the dangers facing young gay men like himself in the midst of the AIDS epidemic. It is only after his encounter with CJ, a flamboyant, proud teen only a year older, that Micah begins to realize that being queer can be more than clandestine encounters and early death. As the two boys grow closer and CJ’s outrageous, compulsive lies give way to quieter, scarier truths, Micah begins to embrace his own place in the queer community. The vision of this community constructed by Konigsberg is complex and vast, ranging from a run-in with Marsha P. Johnson to Micah’s father’s wealthy, seemingly hetero-assimilated gay friend. The glaring inequity between the experiences of queer white boys like CJ and Micah and their Black and brown counterparts is not overlooked. Although AIDS is inescapable, the focus remains on Micah’s personal growth from a closeted boy to an activist arrested at a die-in protest. Modern teens may also see parallels between the events that lead to Micah’s activism and the events currently urging young queer people into tenacious self-advocacy.
VERDICT An intense but ultimately uplifting purchase crucial to augmenting any historical fiction collection.

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