Tag Archives: letters

Review: A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow

A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow

A Million Quiet Revolutions
Robin Gow
Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
Published March 22, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About A Million Quiet Revolutions

For as long as they can remember, Aaron and Oliver have only ever had each other. In a small town with few queer teenagers, let alone young trans men, they’ve shared milestones like coming out as trans, buying the right binders–and falling for each other.

But just as their relationship has started to blossom, Aaron moves away. Feeling adrift, separated from the one person who understands them, they seek solace in digging deep into the annals of America’s past. When they discover the story of two Revolutionary War soldiers who they believe to have been trans man in love, they’re inspired to pay tribute to these soldiers by adopting their names–Aaron and Oliver. As they learn, they delve further into unwritten queer stories, and they discover the transformative power of reclaiming one’s place in history.

My Review

I was delighted to discover that A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS is a novel in verse! Somehow I missed that when I agreed to review it, and as soon as I started reading the lines of poetry, I was immediately carried away by the story of these two boys.

I loved the connection between their present day lives and the things they read about Revolutionary War soldiers who may have been transgender. The story mentions reports of some women who dressed as men to fight and then continued to live as men after the war. There wasn’t language for those soldiers to describe themselves as transgender, and the author is clear to point out that we don’t know for sure what their intentions or reasons were. It made an interesting thing to think about and kind of pointed up the fact that being transgender, while the term may be relatively new, the identity isn’t.

The story flips back and forth between Aaron and Oliver’s points of view, relating things they experience and think about in sparse, emotive verse. Oliver’s parents are supportive of his identity, but Aaron’s parents are not. The journey through the experiences of both definitely communicated moments of pain and validation for each of them. I thought the relationships between characters, especially the boys and their families, felt real and layered.

On the whole, I very much enjoyed reading this book. I read the whole thing in one sitting because I really wanted to keep going all the way until the end of the story. I think readers who enjoyed JESS, CHUNK AND THE ROAD TRIP TO INFINITY or MUSIC FROM ANOTHER WORLD should check this one out, too.

Content Notes for A Million Quiet Revolutions

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Oliver is Jewish and Aaron is Puerto Rican. Both are transgender boys.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger Warning for mentions of sexual assault.
Kissing between boys. One scene references sexual touching and another shows some graphic sex.

Oliver and Aaron learn about another character who has been sexually assaulted and reports it to the police.

Spiritual Content
References to Jewish celebrations and attending services. References to Catholic services and ceremonies.

Violent Content
Some transphobic and homophobic comments.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Fool’s Errand by Jenna Zark

Fool’s Errand (Beat Street #2)
Jenna Zark
Dragon Moon Press
Published November 20, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Fool’s Errand

When her best friend Sophie goes missing, 12-year-old Ruby Tabeata has a choice: wait for her friend to come home or defy her parents and find Sophie.

Set during the 1950s Blacklist era when writers like Sophie’s mom were being jailed or fired, Fool’s Errand sends Ruby out of her city and her comfort zone.

With nothing to rely on but her grit and determination, Ruby has to outsmart the men chasing Sophie and her mom—discovering that whether or not you succeed, trying to save a friend is never a fool’s errand.

My Review

Just like in THE BEAT ON RUBY’S STREET, I found Ruby’s character really fun and realistic. I loved the way she explains things, and her loyalty and devotion to the people she loves. I thought it was interesting watching her relationships with her parents grow and change. It felt like she was figuring out some important things.

The setting explores a bit of the Blacklist era and what happens when someone is reported to have been at meetings with Communists in the 1950s. Ruby and her friends help her best friend’s mom hide from men sent by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In some of those scenes, Ruby is largely a bystander, watching and comforting her friend while the adults figure out what to do next. She does take an active role in helping at times, though.

On the whole, I still enjoyed the characters and the ways the social issues of the day impacted the story and Ruby’s family and friends. I think fans of THE BEAT ON RUBY’S STREET will enjoy seeing another adventure from their favorite Beat poet.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Major characters are white. One of Ruby’s family’s friends is black.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A couple racial slurs used. While these may have been commonly used during the 1950s, I wish the author had used different words or written a note in the book explaining why those words were used.

UPDATE 11/10/20: Jenna Zark has added a note in the book explaining the use of the racial slurs that appear in the story.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Ruby very briefly mentions learning from a Yogi.

Violent Content
Ruby listens to two adults talking about the Civil Rights protests and how police are using dogs and fire hoses and people have died protesting.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of FOOL’S ERRAND in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.

Review: The How and the Why by Cynthia Hand

The How and the Why
Cynthia Hand
Published November 5, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Goodreads

About The How and the Why

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

My Review

I had so much fun reading THE HOW AND THE WHY. First off, there’s so much humor– both situational (like when Cass blurts out that she wants to get a boyfriend and have sex only to realize her whole family has overheard her) and that witty banter between characters that I absolutely could eat with a spoon.

But it’s not just a funny, silly story. Not only is Cass wrestling with wanting to know her biological mom, but she’s also facing potentially losing her adopted mom to a heart problem.

Even thinking back through some of the scenes has me tearing up. So many moments are just packed with emotions that leap off the page and grab you by the tear ducts. I think I full-on ugly cried at one point.

When I realized that the story was going to alternate between Cass’s life and the letters she ends up receiving from her biological mom, I wasn’t sure how that was going to work. I feel like it’s really hard to do that kind of a back-and-forth story and do both parts well, create two individual voices, keep tension and interest in both stories, etc.

But oh my gosh did Cynthia Hand do that well! I felt like the balance and the character/plot development were perfect. I had questions, I felt tension at all the right moments. I invested in both stories.

I feel like the obvious comparisons are to books like PAST PERFECT LIFE and WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE because they wrestle with estranged family. But I think any readers who enjoy strong contemporary stories, especially ones about drama kids, will love THE HOW AND THE WHY. I think also fans of HOW TO BE BRAVE by E. Katherine Kottaras will want this one on their reading lists.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Cass’s best friend is Mormon and black. One of her friends comes out to her as gay. Both Cass and her best friend are adopted.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Cass tells her friend she wants to have sex.

Spiritual Content
Some reference to Cass’s best friend’s Mormon beliefs, including that she doesn’t swear or drink caffeine.

Violent Content
Some reference to physical abuse (happens off-scene).

Drug Content
Some details about a high school teen drinking alcohol with a college boy.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of THE HOW AND THE WHY in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost
Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published April 4, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Letters to the Lost
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

My Review
Letters to the Lost totally blew me away. I loved it. It was all the things I loved about You’ve Got Mail but with all of these deep emotions, unresolved grief, family issues, and loneliness. I felt immediately hooked by the idea of this blind exchange between two people who both feel completely isolated from everyone around them which gives them a sense of connection. I loved the way the relationship plays out as they meet each other in real life (without knowing it’s the person they’ve been writing to.) Also, I absolutely adored Rev. He may have been my favorite. It’s hard to say because I loved so much about the story, but if I had a book boyfriend list, Rev would probably be at the top.

At its surface, I’d say this is a romance. It’s about a girl and a boy who meet through letters and fall in love, but they have to figure out who that other person is and face the idea that it may be someone they’ve judged harshly or even don’t like in real life. Beneath that, though, Letters to the Lost deals with some pretty intense grief. Juliet’s mom died in a hit and run car accident. Declan’s dad is responsible for his sister’s death. Both Juliet and Declan have difficult relationships with their parents. Declan’s mom remarried a guy who Declan can’t stand. Juliet’s dad has been distant since her mom’s death.

I loved the way the story began to unravel the truth about Juliet and Declan’s pasts. Some things took me by surprise—in a good way. Each of them have a steadfast friend who sticks with them through their grief, and I loved those friendships, too, and the way Juliet and Declan began to realize how their grief affected others through those relationships. It all felt very organic.

If you’re looking for a romance packed with emotion, you want to read this one. It’s heavy, yes, but has so much hope and love in it. This is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white. Juliet competes with and later befriends an Asian boy in her photography class. Black parents adopt Declan’s best friend Rev.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used with moderate frequency. One instance of stronger profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing. At one point one girl jokes with her friend about whether or not her boyfriend has sent a picture of his “manhood” to her.

Someone finds nude pictures of a man and woman together.

Spiritual Content
Rev is a Christian and sometimes shares Bible verses with Declan. It’s clear his faith means a great deal to him.

Violent Content
References to physical abuse in one character’s past. One character talks about a fear he has that he will become violent and be unable to stop.

Drug Content
A girl accuses a boy of trying to spike the punch at a school dance. (He’s not.)

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.