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


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

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.


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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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.


An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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