cover image Can’t Take That Away

Can’t Take That Away

Steven Salvatore. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0530-9

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. [em]Agent: Jessica Regel, Helm Literary. (Mar.) [/em]