Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Stonewall

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
By Ann Bausum
Published 2015 by Viking Books for Young Readers

While the fight for gay rights continues to this day, Bausum takes readers back to the beginning of this long civil rights struggle: the Stonewall riots of 1969.

While I enjoy reading non-fiction, particularly that geared toward young people, I don't often find much time to work it into my reading schedule. I'd heard of this title and added it to my to-read list. I also ordered a copy for our library. When it came in, I read it instantly.

This is a great work of non-fiction for its intended audience. It is honest and truthful and depicts the events accurately and succinctly. Bausum manages to sugarcoat nothing but also doesn't overwhelm readers with horrifying details. She strikes a great balance between the truth and too much honesty. Readers will walk away from this book with a complete understanding of how difficult it was to be gay in the 1960s (and in most of the decades that followed) and how the fight for gay rights began (and continues even today).

Clearly and concisely, Bausum captures the beginning of the gay rights movement in short and insightful chapters. She begins by setting the scene, providing a landscape of what life was like for gay youth prior to the Stonewall riots. She explores the history of the Stonewall Inn and the events that led to its pivotal role in the beginning of the movement. She, of course, captures the riots themselves, and then further investigates their role in the expansion of the movement. She then discusses the emergence of AIDS and the impact the disease had on the gay rights movement. A final chapter briefly explores the state of the gay rights movement nowadays (highlighting the fight for marriage equality).

This is a fantastic resource for young adults wanting to know more about the gay rights movement, what it was like to be a gay person over the past several decades, and the riots themselves. Very well-done, and wonderfully researched. Highly recommended.

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