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Book Review: Speaking Out – Queer Youth in Focus photography by Rachelle Lee Smith

By Books & Authors, Gay, ReviewsNo Comments
speaking-out-book-cover-rachelle-lee-smith Speaking Out is a collection of photographic portraits of LBGT young people (aged 14-24 years old). 65+ young people, mostly from the USA are photographed. On each portrait young people have shared their thoughts, feelings or an experience. The young people have been honest in sharing their joys and tribulations of being an LGBT youth in a heterosexual world.

In Speaking Out photographer Rachelle Lee Smith took the portraits, handed young people a sharpie pen and left them to write what they wanted. Among other topics, young people wrote about: stereotypes, identity, homophobia, self-love and romantic love. Young people identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. It was great to see transgendered young people represented, however the vast majority of the young people identified as lesbian.

Years later, some young people reconsidered their portrait. They wrote about how their lives had changed and what they would write now. It was enjoyable to read these reflections from young people and the book would have benefited from having more of these. Several pages of the book felt wasted as they contained quotes that either praised the photographer or the book its self. Never was there any praise for the young people who were actually brave enough to share their stories.

Speaking Out is presented well, it’s a large book with 127 glossy pages in full colour. There is the odd page where a young person’s hand writing makes it difficult to read what they’ve written, but at no point is it unreadable.

Speaking Out is an enlightening book that shows how we are all the same, rather than how we are different. It should be available in every school, college, library and youth club.

Review soon,

Antony

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Book Review: Speed Demons by Gun Brooke

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
speed-demons-gun-brooke-cover Speed Demons by Gun Brooke is quite essentially a lesbian love story that was kindly sent to me by Publishers Group UK.

Evie is a NASCAR Racing Driver that had a crash and is planning a come back. Blythe is a Professional Photographer and was snapping the day of the crash. Blythe has heard about Evie’s comeback and wants to document her journey back to the racetrack in the form of a photography book.

Blythe convinces Evie to agree to the photography book idea and a relationship starts to develop – far to quickly to be believable to the reader. Along with the waves of closeness between Evie & Blythe they both help one another to overcome the current challenges in their lives.

For Evie the challenge is apparent: her recovery and return to the racetrack. In order for Evie to achieve her goal she must undertake her physical training and find a way of dealing with her PTSD. Blythe’s challenge is to deal with her lost family connection and her feelings about it. Blythe feels that her family indirectly blame her for the attack on her brother many years ago.

Evie & Blythe’s characters are well developed with good backstories. Brooke‘s use of character perspectives and of Evie & Blythe psychoanalysing one another makes the reader care about them.

Brooke‘s description was sparse at times and the reader would have benefited from more detail. The are a few sex scenes; I found it strange that Brooke used the word “sex” to describe lady-parts in one part of the book and yet later on used the word “clit” quite blatantly.

The storyline was fair and somewhat predictable. I did find that Blythe’s family challenge felt like an after thought, thrown in towards the end of the book. The ending was reasonable but had a few loose ends – such as Evie’s family approval and a resolution of Blythe’s family issues. The most unsatisfying part of the ending was Blythe’s seemingly sacrificing her life for Evie’s. Overall the ending felt rushed and not thought out.

Yet despite the criticisms it was a reasonable book; by the end of it I found myself wishing there was a gay male version of Gun Brooke writing gay mens love stories. Speed Demons by Gun Brooke is available to buy on Amazon.

Review soon,

Antony

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