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

5.0

The fact that this is a debut novel astounds me. I recently had a conversation with my roommate about how some authors sit on their incredible words for years and we never get to read them yet adequate or actually bad authors can pump out books and get that cash year after year. I will certainly be picking up anything else that Steven writes in the future.

Carey Parker loves Mariah Carey. Like LOVES her. And Carey wants to become a diva of their own. But with their grandmother's health issues and constant bullying from kids in class because of their identity, Carey is constantly struggling to break free. But then Carey meets a cute boy named Cris and finally life seems to be taking a turn. Carey makes a bold and brave choice to audition for Elphaba in their school's upcoming musical Wicked, but not everyone in town or at their school is okay with Carey playing the role. And so Carey must fight, with the help of their friends and family, for acceptance, justice, and for their right to exist as they are.

This book was unlike anything I've read before. Carey Parker is a splendid character, full of heart, intelligence, courage, and love. I absolutely adored that each chapter was told in indentifying pronouns based on how Carey identified at the time or day that the story was being told. Mr. Kelly is a remarkable teacher and I love the idea of wearing a bracelet specifically to acknowledge your pronouns on a specific day. I could tell within the first ten pages that I was going to love this book.

I loved that there was pure joy in some cases and while there was intense battles of anger and sadness, love always came back through. I liked how well the school board and adults were portrayed in varying ways, it felt extremely realistic. I was so attached to Carey and their fight and at one point even CRIED because I felt so beaten down and exhausted by what Carey was experiencing.

Overall, highly important read, incredible characters, lovely writing, and exceptional debut,