ARC Review of A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

While choosing an invention for a class project, Silas decides to do his report on Glenn Burke, the first person to give a high five.

Silas very purposely chose Glenn Burke. Like Silas, Glenn Burke was a baseball player. Also like Silas, Glenn Burke was gay.

Silas has just figured this out for himself, and he hasn’t yet shared this with anyone. He decides to share it with his best friend Zoey, but when Zoey doesn’t respond quite as enthusiastically as Silas hoped, their friendship becomes strained.

Add to this homophobic remarks from some of his baseball teammates, and Silas feels more alone than ever before. In a moment of desperation, Silas lies to his teammates and tells him that he’s dating Zoey, and disastrous consequences follow.

Silas fears that what happened to Glenn Burke will happen to him too, and he becomes more and more withdrawn from the sport he loves and those he loves. It’ll take someone to get him out of this spiral.

A High Five for Glenn Burke is incredible. Silas is desperate for acceptance, and he seeks that out in any way that he can, even through a historical figure who died before he was born. Often times, I felt the desire to just hug Silas and tell him that things are going to eventually be okay. Bildner writes this story so well, and it’s one that everyone ages 9 and up should read.

A High Five for Glenn Burke releases on February 25, 2020.

One Moment Can Change Everything (A Caleb Roehrig Gratitude post)

December 21, 2016.

About a month prior, I had first attempted to start an anti-depressant, the first time in three years that I’d be on one. It didn’t go too well. I spent all day in bed while the room swam around me. But I had a couple weeks off for Christmas, and it was time to start again.

I picked up books from the library, expecting that I wouldn’t feel very well at first. One book, I had seen several times at the library, but I kept passing it by. That time, I picked it up.

On December 20, I took the first dose of the new medication, and I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up, slightly dizzy and mostly unable to concentrate on anything.

As I laid on the couch, I picked up that book I had kept passing by. For the first time that day, I was able to focus. I quickly became entranced by the story, reading until the side effects of the medication got too much.

That book was Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig.

In that book, Flynn’s ex-girlfriend January disappears, and Flynn becomes involved the search for her while having to face the truth of who he really is. A thriller doesn’t seem like a life-changing book. However, that moment led to far greater things.

Over the past three years, the author of that book has become a friend.

Over the past three years, he has encouraged me to always do what’s best for me. The first time that I met him, he had actually offered to send me a signed bookplate in case the idea of the signing became too overwhelming for me to follow through in going. On the day of that signing, as he signed my book, he asked me how I was holding up.

He’s encouraged me to follow my dream of writing, and he’s 80% of the reason why I started writing those first words on the page in June 2018. As of date, I have three completed manuscripts, and while publishing those may never happen, I am pursuing that dream. He’s encouraged me without ever having read my writing, and he regularly reminds me that as long as I’m alive, this dream doesn’t have an expiration date.

He’s the first person that I came out to, and he’s the first person I told after I came out to my mom. In fact, Caleb’s book White Rabbit was the reason why I was able to finally sleep well at night again because it let me know that it was okay to not have a label. And while I finally did land on a label, I wouldn’t have gotten there otherwise.

He’s the supplier of many many many book recommendations. He regularly hypes up works by other authors, and I have lost track of how many books I’ve read because of this. (It’s legit over 30.)

He’s also one of the only people that allows me to regularly be honest about where my mental health is at. (Disclaimer: we do have a friendship now, and Caleb invited me to be honest with him about this stuff.) He’s read many ranting messages from me. and he’s read some pretty depressing ones too. But he hasn’t given up on me, and that’s incredible.

I don’t know who I’d be right now if I hadn’t picked up that book on that day. I don’t know that I would have found the courage to start writing. I wouldn’t have had the courage to come out to my mom. (I’m still shocked that I did.)

But I don’t need to wonder. Instead, I am incredibly grateful.

One moment can change eventually change everything.

Thank you, Caleb Roehrig.

ARC Review of In the Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Brie loves soap operas. It’s been a way for her to bond with her mom for years. But now Brie has a secret. She googled Kelly Monaco’s name (a soap opera star) and found topless photos. And thing is: Brie likes them.

Her mom walked in on Brie discovering this, but Brie slammed the laptop shut quickly before her mom could realize it. In attempts to distract her mom, she told her that she was picked to crown Mary, a big deal at her Catholic school. But it’s not even true.

Brie quickly begins her mission to earn to that top spot, becoming a better student than she ever has before. As she begins this mission though, she struggles as her mom takes on more hours at work, as she continues to hide that she likes girls, and as she tries to earn that spot to crown Mary.

This book can be a little bit tough at times to read. [Spoiler] Brie is outed to her mom, and her mom doesn’t respond that well. It’s heartbreaking to read, even though it’s realistic for many people.

But the book is beautiful. It takes you in to the story quickly, and you will root for Brie throughout the whole story.

In the Role of Brie Hutchens releases April 21, 2020.

DRC Review of Camp by L. C. Rosen

Disclaimer: I received a DRC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

For the last few summers, Randy has come to Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. He was free to be himself more fully, even being the lead in the musical there last summer. But this year, Randy is gone, and Del is here instead. Del doesn’t wear nail polish. Dell doesn’t do musical. Del does sports instead. Del wears different clothes.

Why? So Randy aka Del can attract Hudson, a guy who is only into “straight-acting” guys. He has a plan. He will get Hudson to fall in love with Del and reveal himself as Randy, hoping that Hudson has fallen in love him enough that he won’t have any problems being himself around Hudson.

At first, Del’s plans goes better than he expects. Turns out, Hudson was so oblivious to Randy in the past that Del is able to fully pass himself off as a new camper. Hudson takes advantage, eschewing his former reputation as a playboy at the camp, to quickly begin a romance with Del.

But as the summer unravels, pieces of the past find ways to pierce into the relationship, and Del finds himself wondering, is a relationship worth it if he has to change who he is to be in it?

Camp is an important look at toxic masculinity as well as some of the issues that are very real in the queer community, from problems with those that won’t accept you outside of the community to problems with those that won’t accept you from inside the community. It is a very worthwhile read.

Camp releases May 26, 2020.

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