Erudite, readable, and appalling.

MURDER AMONG FRIENDS

HOW LEOPOLD AND LOEB TRIED TO COMMIT THE PERFECT CRIME

A comprehensive recounting of a child murder and the resulting landmark trial.

On May 21, 1924, 19-year-old Nathan Leopold and 18-year-old Richard Loeb drove through the streets of Kenwood, an affluent, partially Jewish neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, looking for a random child to kill. They considered one of Richard’s little brother’s friends, but when that boy ran off, they settled on 14-year-old Bobby Franks, one of Richard’s cousins, with whom he’d played tennis the day before. Richard wished to prove himself a “master criminal”; Nathan wanted Richard to remain his lover. But despite the general incompetence and corruption of Chicago’s police force at that time, the pair were quickly taken into custody and confessed. Though their guilt was unquestionable, their families sought no less an attorney than Clarence Darrow (eminent in his profession though not yet of Scopes Monkey Trial fame), who took the case due to his hatred of the death penalty. Insanity had until then been seen as a binary condition; Darrow, saying “all life is worth saving,” argued that it was a continuum that could mitigate without fully denying culpability. Fleming, a master of meticulously researched nonfiction, covers Leopold’s and Loeb’s troubled childhoods, the horrible crime itself, the odd bond between the newspapers and the police that facilitated a conviction, and Darrow’s intelligence and humanity. In the end, however, Leopold and Loeb are so chilling that readers won’t celebrate their judicial victory.

Erudite, readable, and appalling. (afterword, bibliography, endnotes, photo credits) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-17742-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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