Friday, September 21, 2012

Review: October Mourning

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
By Leslea Newman
Expected publication September 25, 2012 by Candlewick

The night that Matthew Shepard died, Leslea Newman was on her way to his campus for Gay Awareness Week. Scheduled to give a speech, she went on as planned, shaken and overwhelmed by what was occurring. This book is her response to what happened in Wyoming, told in verse and through a variety of viewpoints.

Matthew Shepard's death is, to me, an unforgettable moment in our nation's history. It's now been almost 15 years and the impact is still felt across the nation and among all different types of people. An e-galley of this title was being offered as part of School Library Journal's SummerTeen celebration and I was quick to grab a copy. I'm a big fan of verse novels, and I also think we can always use more books for GLBT youth. This is a beautiful book. It's short but it's powerful and I think the verse format works exceedingly well for telling this tragic story. It didn't take me very long to read but I was completely absorbed while I was reading. I couldn't help but think back over the events of my life that have been occurred because of homophobia. This book will bring out those memories for anyone whose life has been impacted but it will also keep the focus on Matthew Shepard's death. Newman does a wonderful job telling the story through many different voices and in many different poetic forms. I think this helps to bring readers into the complete experience of this crime. The author's note at the end gives some background information on Newman and what she was hoping to accomplish with this book. I think she has succeeded. This is a lyrical and moving tribute to not just Matthew Shepard, but to the countless gay youth who have been harmed through the years. But it is also a tribute to Matthew Shepard, a man whose life was cut drastically short by someone else's hatred. This book will find its way to the teens who need it - get extra copies.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via NetGalley.

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