Friday 21 August 2020

Review Time! - Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill by Lee Wind

(Warning: this post discusses Homophobia and bigotry, including physical violence)

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'Queer As A Five Dollar Bill' written in mismatched letters over a background of a five dollar bill, ft. Abraham Lincoln

Title: Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill

'Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill' book cover with $5 poking out of the back of a boy's jeans
Author: Lee Wind

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBTQ+ (Gay & M/M)

A Few Starting Notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley. NetGalley provides books to reviewers as an opportunity to provide fair and honest reviews.

Lee Wind runs the awesome book blog 'I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?' which allows reviewers to exchange views on Queer YA and MG.

I'm a fan of Lee and have commented/shared review links on his blog before, but I promise to be totally fair and honest!

Knowing of Lee, and hearing the premise, I just had to give this one a try!

This book is #OwnVoices for Gay representation.

The Premise:

Wyatt lives in Lincolnville, Oregon, in an Abraham Lincoln-themed B&B, and his school's history project is on - you guessed it - Abraham Lincoln.

But history - well, the facts aren't always what people believe them to be. 

And, as Wyatt is about to discover, Lincoln? Was* Queer.

Cue a huge Homophobic media row that threatens to damage his parents' business, and reveal Wyatt's own sexuality in a hostile atmosphere...

*Really - not just this fictional version of Lincoln. Real Lincoln. Dude was Queer. #TrueStory

The Best Bits:

This one pulled me in!

I was right there with Wyatt as he struggled, wanting to scream at his family and friends to see what was in front of their faces and help him!

The atmosphere here was damn-near small-town suffocating.

And the heart-rending worries of a kid who thinks that the people they care about most in the world won't love them if they come out is... it hits hard.

There's also the fact that Wyatt might be physically in danger if anyone finds out - this is not an understanding place to live.

Plus I just really liked Wyatt

Yeah, he makes some mistakes and messes stuff up (the way he treats his 'girlfriend', Mackenzie, for example,) but it all comes from this poor kid trying to be safe and happy in an unkind world.

And he's lowkey a little bada**. 

To survive this long in this closeted toxicity? And still stand up for the truth? 

This kid is stronger than he gives himself credit for.

I also like the way Wind brings us back to earth - Lincoln wasn't some kind of Queer god. He was human, and therefore flawed.

I like the discussion of hero worship and its pitfalls, and accepting the entirety of the truth, rather than closing your eyes to the bad stuff.

The Not-So-Great Bits:

The pacing had a few wibbly-wobbly moments - just occasionally we seemed to put the gas pedal at random places, once or twice we applied the brakes in the same way.

I mean - life isn't always one pace, to be fair. 

But, like, I noticed it while reading, so... make of that what you will!

One of the main (and one of the only) criticisms that I've seen about this book on the Interwebs* is that the Homophobia, in particular, is melodramatic and unrealistic.

While I can see how someone might come to that conclusion... I respectfully disagree.

*Check me out, researching stuff! #ProBlogger

Listen, the world has changed a lot over recent years, but... 

It doesn't seem unrealistic to me. Even living in a pretty tolerant country, it's all too possible.

People can and do attack and kill Queer people. 

People can and do use slurs - even people in positions of authority.

People can and do react frighteningly agressively when you talk about historical figures, or even fictional characters, being Queer.

Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.*

*Warning: link includes details of hate crimes including homicides

Content Warnings:

We deal with some deep sh** in this one, dearest nerdlets, so be careful:

- Homophobia (lots of it)
- Explicit Homophobic slurs, including from teachers etc.
- Bullying (inc. physical Homophobic attacks)
- Being closeted
- Coming Out
- Being outed/the threat of being outed
- Severe financial problems
- Family issues
- references to racism

...I think that's everything. As always, please be careful reading, and let me know if I've forgotten anything!

The Verdict:

Seeing as how most of my 'not so great bits' section was spent refuting one of the main criticisms of this book, you've probably guessed that I was impressed!

This was... so good. And will mean so much to so many teens (and probs quite a few adults.)

Obviously, I understand if the subject matter is too much. But if you can face it, then I highly recommend Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill.

Did you know Lincoln was Queer af?
Talk to me! 💖💬

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  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Cee! I always find it so cool when the bloggers I follow end up getting published.

    1. I know, right? Still, I also tend to be harsher on people I've interacted with! <3

  2. An Abe Lincoln themed B&B! That is delightful. This sounds really great, though I am glad to be warned about some of the difficult content, and I can't wait to read it!

    1. They have a bed that Lincoln supposedly slept in once. And Wyatt is like, 'OMG, could the floor swallow me up already?!' It's awesome - I hope you enjoy it! :)


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