Out!: How To Be Your Authentic Self

Abrams/Amulet. Oct. 2020. 224p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781419739941.
Gr 8 Up–YouTuber and LGBTQIA+ activist McKenna, a self-described “queer, transgender, twenty-something-year-old guy who tries to be funny on the Internet,” crafts an affirming and refreshing guide to understanding sexuality, gender identity, and coming out. Focusing on self-acceptance and authenticity, McKenna reminds teens there’s no right or wrong way to come out. He offers an informative play-by-play of his own coming out and transition. The text is interspersed with lists on topics such as how to come out at school, including a template letter to administrators. Opening this book is like diving straight into McKenna’s Instagram page—there are bright, full-page selfies and Polaroids. Illustrated elements also include handwritten journal entries and colorful text boxes providing biographical information on LGBTQIA+ historical figures. Slang, hashtags, and humor are peppered throughout the text, conveying a modern tone that will appeal to teens. McKenna acknowledges his own white privilege but does not delve into the possible challenges an LGBTQIA+ person of color can experience. Extensive back matter includes a glossary, a recipe for rainbow cake, a playlist, a gallery of fan art, and thoroughly researched online resources for LGBTQ+ youth and allies.
VERDICT Any teen with questions about gender identity and/or sexuality will find heart, humor, and essential guidance in McKenna’s book, and so will the adults looking to support them. An indispensable first purchase.

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