cover image Destination Unknown

Destination Unknown

Bill Konigsberg. Scholastic, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-61805-1

Konigsberg (The Bridge) draws on personal experiences, as detailed in an author’s note, to deliver a touching love story between two gay teens, set in 1987 New York at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Sparks fly when closeted Jewish Micah Strauss, 17, meets offbeat, out CJ Gorman, 18 and wearing a plexiglass bra, in a nightclub bathroom. The pair bond over music from period-specific musicians such as Wham!, and deliver meals to people with AIDS. Though Micah is immediately captivated, calling CJ “a puzzle I needed to solve,” the two decide they’re better off as friends after engaging in awkward sex. But upon discovering that CJ is an exotic dancer, Micah is overcome with jealousy around CJ’s patrons. A compassionate cast, including Micah’s affectionate mother and a mentoring lesbian coworker, supports him as he learns more about queer people’s triumphs and trials, and reevaluates his place within the community while falling hard for CJ. Konigsberg’s keen sense of time and place, coupled with an optimistic atmosphere, make for both a swoony romance and a sensitive, nuanced look into a tumultuous period in history. Characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Linda Epstein, Emerald City Literary. (Sept.)