Reviews tagging Racism

Can't Take That Away, by Steven Salvatore

4 reviews

seawarrior's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective sad tense 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? Yes

4.0

There's a lot of ways I feel about this story and how I relate to it, but I'll try not to go on too long. I sincerely hope this book was as validating an experience to write as it surely will be for the genderqueer people who read it. 

I began this story feeling that I couldn't see much of myself in Carey and was somewhat at odds with their melodramatic perspective of the world. Yet after reading further, I quickly became invested in their life and their dreams. Their wish to just exist authentically without having to make a political statement to do so is painfully close to my heart. I loved that as Carey grew kinder to themselves, they learned to apply similar kindness and understanding towards the people they were close to. It's very rewarding to watch a character who's a self-described diva learn to de-center themselves and prioritize their loved ones, along with those they have the power to inspire. Carey's love towards themselves and their friends and family made me love and respect them too as a reader. The supporting characters don't feel like props in Carey's play of life. Instead they are written with their own dreams, and anxieties they learn to overcome over the course of the story.

Really my only significant criticism of this story was that some of the character's speeches read more like a well-plotted lecture than organic dialogue that would realistically occur between people. However, I understand how difficult these moments must be to create as a writer, especially when your character is representing a piece of yourself. For the most part I felt this story was refreshing and inspiring, and the characters' voices will likely stick with me for a long time. 

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thereadersofrohan's review against another edition

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emotional informative inspiring tense 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? Yes

5.0


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betweentheshelves's review

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emotional inspiring slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for an advanced copy of this book to review! While this book was tough to read at times, given what Carey has to go through as a genderqueer teen, I still think it’s an important story to add to the YA genre. Plus, reading about music and musicals is always an added bonus.

Let me start by saving Salvatore's writing is fantastic. They suck you in with Carey's story and the voice throughout the book is phenomenal. Carey (he/she/them, I use they/them for the purpose of this review) feels so realistic and almost leaps off the page. Carey's friends are also well-rounded, giving the reader a full cast of diverse characters. This was probably my favorite aspect of the book overall.

However, while Cris and Carey's relationship felt mostly realistic, it does get a little tiring by the end. It's messy and back and forth, which totally fits a teen relationship. But the miscommunication, I felt, went on a little too long for the book. Mostly, the pacing for that aspect of the plot felt a little off to me. The rest of the plot, however, does feel right pacing wise.

Going in, readers should also be warned that there is a lot of queer trauma in this book. There are also mentions of suicide and suicide ideation. The main antagonist, Mr. Jackson, is one still seen too often in schools and the ending in relation to him felt a little too convenient. And maybe not quite realistic? It just didn't quite fit with the rest of the story.

All in all, if you're someone that reads for voice and character, I absolutely recommend this book for that. And the musical references! There's a playlist at the end of the book I really appreciated, too. Can't wait to see what else Salvatore comes up with! 


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booksthatburn's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.  

CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY Is about being true to yourself, following your dreams, and making your small slice of the world a little safer for the ones who come after.

The plot rotates between focusing on the MC's inner struggles and musical aspirations, the queerphobic treatment they encounter at school, and their relationships (both platonic and romantic). Early on these sections felt a little more divided, but as the book continues these facets of the MC's life bleed into each other as the MC figures out how they're actually interrelated and how solutions in one arena can lift up every other part of their life. 

This is a book I wish I'd had as a teen, it's got a good balance between explaining the MC's queerness and just showing them living it. Part of that experience is dealing with homophobia, queerphobia, and transphobia as a genderqueer high schooler, and part of it is a sweet but tumultuous romance as the MC keeps getting in their own way. The friendships (and friend list) change and grow throughout the story in a way feels appropriate without being rushed, and I had time to really get to know their friends and how they are around each other. The chapter headings keep the reader up to speed on their oscillating pronouns, coupled with a simple and effective method for the characters in the book to keep track too (color coded bracelets). I really appreciated this because it meant I could relax and not constantly be bracing for them to be misgendered. This book also made me wish I knew more about Mariah Carey; the MC's passion for her music and their enthusiastic knowledge about her life was woven throughout the book in a blend of allegory and coping mechanisms which are foundation to the story. As someone who doesn't know much about Mariah, I was grateful that references to her were given enough context to make the parallels and inspiration clear without distracting from the story. I learned more about her via the MC, which in turn connected me even more to the MC as they processed their experiences and emotions via their passion for the singer, rather than being emotionally isolated from the MC due to my minimal knowledge of Mariah. 

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