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Can't Take That Away
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Can't Take That Away
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"A charming, inspired story about being true to who you are." - Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage...
"A charming, inspired story about being true to who you are." - Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage...
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  • "A charming, inspired story about being true to who you are." - Phil Stamper, bestselling author of The Gravity of Us An empowering and emotional debut about a genderqueer teen who finds the courage to stand up and speak out for equality when they are discriminated against by their high school administration. Carey Parker dreams of being a diva, and bringing the house down with song. They can hit every note of all the top pop and Broadway hits. But despite their talent, emotional scars from an incident with a homophobic classmate and their grandmother's spiraling dementia make it harder and harder for Carey to find their voice. Then Carey meets Cris, a singer/guitarist who makes Carey feel seen for the first time in their life. With the rush of a promising new romantic relationship, Carey finds the confidence to audition for the role of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the school musical, setting off a chain reaction of prejudice by Carey's tormentor and others in the school. It's up to Carey, Cris, and their friends to defend their rights—and they refuse to be silenced. Told in alternating chapters with identifying pronouns, debut author Steven Salvatore's Can't Take That Away conducts a powerful, uplifting anthem, a swoony romance, and an affirmation of self-identity that will ignite the activist in all of us.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 18, 2021
    A teen dreams of becoming a diva on par with their idol, Mariah Carey, in Salvatore’s bighearted debut. High school senior Carey Parker, who is genderqueer and white, is elated to land the lead in their school’s production of Wicked—especially since they’ll be acting opposite charming, bisexual Cris, who’s Filipino and Greek, and whom they have just started dating. When a homophobic teacher stirs up outrage, jeopardizing Carey’s spot in the musical, they decide to stand up for themself and, with the help of a new, variously inclusive friend group, become the face of an antidiscrimination movement in their New York hometown. Carey’s journey is refreshingly optimistic, informed by LGBTQ history and culture, a supportive therapist, and plenty of Mariah Carey trivia. Carey usually uses they and them pronouns, but their preference sometimes changes; their pronouns are listed at the top of each chapter, further validating their genderqueer identity. Salvatore tackles hard topics such as anti-LGBTQ bullying, suicidal ideation, and grief, but also emphasizes the joy found in community and living one’s truth. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jessica Regel, Helm Literary.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2021

    Gr 9 Up-Salvatore's debut is the genderqueer older sibling to Alex Gino's middle grade novel George that readers didn't know they were missing. Carey is navigating high school as a white genderqueer student, with supportive family, friends, and a favorite teacher to back them up. However, that proves to not be enough to appease the school's homophobic tenured teacher when he demands that Carey be removed as the star of the school production of Wicked. Carey manages to stand up against this injustice with the support of old and new friends, all while learning about the highs and lows of love. While this book depicts support and love, it also tackles heavy topics such as suicide, death, bullying, and severe homophobia. Each chapter identifies the pronouns that Carey is feeling/using that day, and readers unfamiliar with what being genderqueer is will find this very helpful to understand that different days someone may feel like using she, him, or they (all are used throughout the book). With few titles about genderqueer teens, hopefully this will become one of many. VERDICT A fresh voice + a genderqueer teen + one Wicked musical + fighting against the establishment + first love = A page-turning YA debut. Recommended for all YA collections.-Elizabeth Portillo, Finkelstein Memorial Lib., Spring Valley, NY

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    January 15, 2021
    Genderqueer Carey seeks to become the next Elphaba amid teenage struggles with relationships and queerphobia. Things haven't been the same since Carey came out: Their former best friend, Joey, has been avoiding them, and they've been dealing with constant microaggressions from school bully Max and conservative teacher Mr. Jackson. It's not all bad however, because they have their idol Mariah Carey; other best friend, Monroe; and new crush, Cris, to help them out. Now they just need to rock the auditions for the school's production of Wicked. Pop-culture references abound, firmly rooting Carey's world in time, but this works in the narrative's favor, as it deals with topical issues. Scenes of targeted violence and discussions of suicidal ideation make this a tough read, but one shining light stands out: Carey will not be silenced. LGBTQ+ identities are prevalent, including bisexual, lesbian, gay, and genderqueer characters in the main cast. Love interest Cris is Filipino and Greek, and other characters are ethnically diverse; Carey is White. Mental health is discussed often, particularly issues caused by intolerance, and Carey is shown attending therapy sessions. While the narrative often reads like a tragedy, Salvatore takes great care to show that the lives of Carey and their friends are anything but and clearly sends a message of support for those striving to be their true selves. A defiant love letter to queer youth; honest, brutal, and more important than ever. (author's note, resources, guide to protesting, playlist) (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from February 15, 2021
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Carey Parker is a genderqueer teen who dreams of performing in front of crowds as a true diva, like their icon, Mariah Carey, but ever since a traumatic transphobic incident with one of their classmates, they have avoided this dream. When they meet musician Cris, however, and the two begin connecting on a deeper level, Carey is inspired to audition for the role of Elphaba in the school production of Wicked. That transphobic incident wasn't one of a kind, though, as Carey learns when a campaign to have them removed from the leading role is launched. With help from their mom, friends, and a teacher who's been subjected to homophobia at school, Carey must defend their right to sing their heart out. In their dazzling debut, Salvatore crafts a compelling protagonist in Carey. Readers won't be able to stop cheering them on as they handle microaggressions, grief, trauma, and systemic homophobic and transphobic school policies, all while learning to take care of their mental health through therapy. The side characters feel just as real, and Cris and Carey's relationship is given the weight and complexity it deserves. This charming, joyful story--about self-love, fighting for what's right, and the love to be found in chosen family--will make you want to put on a pair of red heels and blast Mariah Carey.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • AudioFile Magazine This sweet and encouraging story is brought to life by narrator Logan Rozos, who voices Carey Parker. Carey is a genderqueer Mariah Carey-loving teen who is navigating first love, discrimination, and family illness while trying to follow their passion of singing. Rozos's narration captures Carey's hopes and doubts, expressing their thoughts with just the right amount of emotion to sound both genuine and entertaining. Listeners will enjoy this heartening story; the romantic plot is endearing, and Rozos does a good job following the poignant ups and downs as Carey learns to trust themself, connect with others, and stand up for their rights. E.J.S. � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine

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