Clearly written, with heart and integrity, but lacking in substance: tasty but not very filling.

FOOD-RELATED STORIES

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Melian, a chef, activist, and former Test Kitchen Manager at Bon Appétit, begins this brief memoir by recounting clearing out the freezer and finding and eating one last helping of her mother’s signature fish dish following her death.

Sharing this precious meal with her brother connected them emotionally and physically with their mother one last time. In other vignettes, she ties her love of food to her happy childhood in Argentina; memories of cooking with her cousins at her abuela’s house and, in particular, her abuela’s ravioles de seso; the revelation of a sidewalk vendor’s hot pretzel that she ate following her arrival in New York City to explore a new path after studying journalism in Buenos Aires; and the physical and mental strength she developed after going into business to sell her empanadas. Melian briefly alludes to her work bringing free food education to inner-city public schools, but the stories she shares here are overall more personal and primal—food as sustenance, not as a vehicle for social justice—which feels like a missed opportunity. She also references in passing the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated industry where being Latina and speaking English with an accent affected how she was treated. Each of the individual anecdotes stands alone, without a narrative arc connecting them, but the descriptions of food are rich in sensory detail.

Clearly written, with heart and integrity, but lacking in substance: tasty but not very filling. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-22349-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more