Reviews

Can't Take That Away, by Steven Salvatore

readingcarpenter's review against another edition

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Started really well, but I stopped enjoying it on the way. 
Romance felt too unrealistic. Carey says they don't easily trust but basically tell their whole live story to Cris on their first and second date...
Mixed with too much sap and too much teenage shit and too much Mariah Carey... 

redbookpanda's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful fast-paced

3.0

brennieree33's review against another edition

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4.0

Carey's story was such a wonderful one, and one that I'm so glad I read. I loved all of the characters, other than Max, Mr. Jackson, and other homophobic members of the school staff, but I wasn't supposed to like them so it's fine. The dialogue that the teen characters had felt very real and not at all like "hello fellow kids," which I really appreciate. The Savage Six's rally for change really make me feel inspired and empowered, and really gave me hope that someday we can all rally together and realize that we're not all that different from each other, and that it shouldn't matter how others live their lives as long as they aren't harming anyone or anything. Some people need to realize this.

TW: discrimination, homophobia (I believe that’s the correct word for this situation but I’m not entirely sure), riots, assault and attacks because of homophobia, the American school system, bullying

Spoiler

The good:
- I love how even though Carey is the underdog, they're not a perfect character. They still screw up, they still hurt people, but they realize their flaws and works to make up for them. Sometimes with underdog characters they're portrayed as perfect in comparison to the oppressors, but this wasn't a problem here and I'm so glad, as normal people aren't perfect. They have flaws, regardless of their moral standpoint.
-I love that they’re just casually screaming in the park

lovefrancesss's review against another edition

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5.0

this book made me cry it was so powerful.

wrenlee's review against another edition

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5.0

This book took my breath away. I devoured it. I loved the genderqueer main character and the pronouns in each chapter. I loved the honesty and rawness about what it means to not fit in the gender binary. I loved the pride and defiance and justice. I loved the way music was woven through every fiber of the story. I didn't love the romance; it felt a bit awkward and forced. I also wish there were trigger warnings for the content. But this book is so amazing, so quoteable, so necessary, that i can forgive these errors.

isthisakissingbook_'s review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny hopeful inspiring reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

klxra's review against another edition

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5.0

I loved this book!! So much!! The wholesomeness of found family and sticking up for community made my heart burst. I loves reading through the perspective of a genderqueer person and related to so many experiences they faced in school. I wish I had a group as brave as theirs back in my school days.

This story beautifully depicts the strength that is in found family and community. I now need to see a genderqueer Elphaba in real life pls

Plus with the added plot of musical theatre, this was right up my alley.

lberestecki's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

asvanroekel29's review against another edition

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4.0

Such a cute book! So many triumphs and great pieces of the lgbtq community to bring this together beautifully. Definitely recommend this to any young and adult readers to learn about lgbtq hardships that can really affect young queer kids in the world.

mortimerdeadsea's review against another edition

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challenging emotional funny hopeful inspiring reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

I've definitely heard mixed things about this book. Overall, I did enjoy it, but I also understand where the criticism is coming from.

This book can be really rough to read; it shows a lot of violent homophobia and transphobia, both from peers and from people in positions of power. I think there are two very important things this book showcases through its story:
1. The most important thing you can have in love is people on your side. Casey would not have been able to do what they did alone, and its only because they had so many people willing to fight for and beside them that they were able to maintain the starring role in the school musical and continue their dreams of being a diva. From their mom, to their queer teacher, to their lifelong best friends, to their newfound friendships, and their newfound romantic interest, they needed everyone's help. The best things happen together, and community and solidarity is one of the most important things marginalized people can have in the fight for rights and liberation.
2. Unfortunately, you won't achieve everything you set out for.
SpoilerThe homophobic teacher they were trying to get fired ultimately only got fired because he didn't actually have teaching credentials. If not for that, they would never would have been able to get him fired because the school board just didn't care enough about the harm he was causing students because it wasn't physically violent.
It's a sad but unfortunate truth that no matter how hard you work, you aren't always going to win the fight. But that isn't a reason to stop trying or celebrate the victories you do get.

The two major criticisms I've heard about the book are often about how touch the book can be to read and about the way the characters of color are portrayed. As I said, the book can be really touch to read, and I think it could be especially tough to read as a young queer and trans teen. Unfortunately, it is realistic, and as touch as it is, I do think it will do a lot for good in the right hands. I do think the criticism surrounding the characters of color is valid, given how the the white main character is able to keep their starring role thanks to the work and sacrifices of the people of color around them. I think the author was trying to show community and solidarity at work, however, I think it would have been better coming from an author of color as opposed to a white author.

Ultimately, I did enjoy the book and I will continue to read Steven Salvatore's future work.

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