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

challenging emotional hopeful inspiring lighthearted 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


**Note: The MC in this book is genderqueer and alternates between using he/she/they pronouns; for this review, I will use they/them pronouns to refer to Carey.**

Carey identifies as genderqueer. They are an incredibly talented singer who longs to be a famous performer like their icon, Mariah Carey. Along with the "normal teen drama," they also regularly face discrimination and homophobic incidents at school. Combined with their grandmother's battle with dementia at home, Carey is struggling to make it through senior year. When auditions come for their high school musical, Carey wants to audition for the main character, Elphaba, who is traditionally played by a woman. After an encounter with a swoon-worthy classmate and several conversations with their supportive friends and family, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the lead role, which makes them a huge target of ridicule in their high school, and sparks a movement bigger than they could have ever anticipated. 

I adored this book; it gave me all the feels. Carey's friend group is the most supportive group of individuals - what you can only hope for in a group of best friends. They have a fiercely supportive mother as well, whose unwavering love for her child is what all queer individuals hope for, but not all are so lucky to have. The rapid decline of Carey's grandmother in her battle with Alzheimer's is something that, sadly, I can sadly relate to, but I love that her character is written as Carey's main inspiration for their singing and performing. 

Throughout the book there are many traumatic events that occur, some on-page and some just referenced. At times, it did seem a little bit too perfect how everything got wrapped up so nicely, but even so I still loved reading how the characters handled each and every curveball that was thrown their way. Without giving too much away, the ending seemed a little bit predictable, but I'm not complaining as it was pretty much everything I wanted in an ending, especially in a standalone novel.

I think it's really important that we see queer books that showcase both the struggles that LGBTQIAP+ individuals go through as well as the triumphs, and this book definitely had both. I read a library copy of this book and will purchasing my own copy ASAP. Additionally, I have already put Salvatore's next book on my TBR, and it doesn't even come out until next year. If you like musicals, queer romance, and activism, this book is for you. 

Rep: non-binary MC, Filipino-American bisexual love interest, gay SC, pansexual black SC, Latina lesbian SC

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