A review by seawarrior
Can't Take That Away, by Steven Salvatore

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


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. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings