- Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore
Trade ed. ISBN 9781547605309 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781547605316 $12.59
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 9–12
High school senior Carey Parker is genderfluid, recently out, and uncertain. Once a talented singer and still carrying dreams of being a diva like their namesake Mariah, Carey is worried that the world will never accept them for their fabulous self. When the encouragement of their favorite teacher, supportive friends, and gorgeous guy Cris convinces them to audition for the school musical, Carey seems to be getting everything they’ve ever wanted—which only means that their world is about to fall apart. Faced with discrimination from fellow students and teachers alike, Carey eventually discovers their true voice by leading a protest against queerphobia in their school. This #ownvoices debut is as much a love letter to pop music as it is a coming-of-age novel, with Carey constantly channeling their musical heroes as a coping mechanism for their daily struggles. Salvatore packs a lot into one novel, with a few romances, suicidal ideations, friendship struggles, and a window into life with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s (Carey’s grandmother) racing alongside Carey’s musical woes and budding romance with Cris; luckily, the quick pacing and Carey’s colloquial narration keep the various threads together. This page turner is a perfect pick for music lovers, budding activists, and kids questioning their own gender identities. End matter includes a mini lesson on activism and, appropriately, a companion playlist.