RaveShelf AwarenessBy charting the evolution of many complex and divergent online communities, McNeil shows that lurking is not a passive activity but a productive one. Lurking isn\'t organized by the linear, deterministic framework that characterizes many accounts of how the Internet came to be. Rather, the history McNeil presents is idiosyncratic and contradictory ... McNeil\'s takes an empathetic, incisive and refreshingly sincere tone. She resists cynicism, while remaining straightforwardly critical of the corrosive forces of capitalism, racism and misogyny. She is an idealist who is also careful to avoid the trap of pining for an Internet that never actually existed ... When described with McNeil\'s wisdom and sensitivity, it almost seems possible.
RaveShelf AwarenessReal Life...has all the notes of a classic \'campus novel.\' It\'s got academic in-fighting. It\'s got complex hierarchies—and an associated web of alliances and betrayals—that link friends, lovers and rivals. And, most importantly to qualify for the genre, it\'s got a vaguely threatening undercurrent roiling beneath a placid collegiate surface. But Real Life tells a story that the others don\'t, and thus is starkly more \'real\' than its peers ... if there is joy in Real Life, it is in Taylor\'s elegant, thoughtful prose ... With shattering elegance, Taylor suggests that the tolls of abuse and institutional subjugation are malignant and inescapable.
RaveShelf AwarenessA funny, heartbreaking and earnest account of Tobia\'s early and young adult life, as well as a smart and accessible entry point for readers interested in learning more about transgender experiences ... While Tobia is candid about difficult experiences like these, Sissy\'s tone is more entertaining and playful than it is bleak. Aided by plentiful, chatty footnotes, Tobia charts the ongoing evolution of their genderqueer identity with open-hearted vulnerability and a razor-sharp wit ... If Sissy has a guiding ethos, that\'s it: truth-telling. Tobia\'s story is not representative of some universal transgender experience, but a testament to, and an affirmation of, the diversity of truths that queer stories contain. Still, it pointedly highlights the things that many queer people have in common, such as the experience of familial, political and professional alienation ... Though Tobia has an impressive academic track record and is obviously intellectually ambitious, Sissy is free from the (important, but complex) theory and analysis that can sometimes weigh down conversations about gender identity and expression. While everyone has something to learn from Sissy, readers new to stories and identities like Tobia\'s will find this memoir an especially welcoming introduction to the quite simple but still revolutionary notion that there are more than two genders.
Esme Weijun Wang
RaveShelf AwarenessIn 13 remarkably well-researched, intimately detailed essays, Wang guides readers on a tour of her own psychological and emotional terrain, grounded in the clinical and cultural context that has shaped it ... examines the connections between mental illness, creativity, spirituality and the occult without resorting to romanticizing or cliché ... Though Wang writes from a highly educated, keenly analytical point of view, there is no academic distance or coldness between her and the page ... organizes the confusion, terror and complexity of her experience into an imperfectly cohesive, profoundly illuminating whole.
PositiveShelf Awareness\"Tense, twisted and briskly paced, poet Laura Sims\'s debut novel, Looker, is the progressively disturbing story of one woman\'s grief-fueled spiral downward to an irredeemable rock bottom ... Somewhat surprisingly, the most disturbing thing about Looker is the creeping sense of complicity that Sims engenders in the reader. Her first-person, present-tense narration forces readers to join the narrator as she grows more daring, as though we too are peering in the actress\'s kitchen windows and stealing things from her front yard. However, the actress is never more than an image, while the narrator\'s psychological unraveling is starkly, brutally real.\
MixedShelf-AwarenessMore illustrative of the dramatically different universes that can exist within just one reality--or one city, or one family--than it is of technology\'s increasingly expansive role in our lives. The effect of these shifting viewpoints ultimately feels a bit uneven, and Schulman takes for granted that her readers will be as invested in some characters as they are in others. But, while flawed, Come with Me is a sharply observed, entertaining and occasionally heartrending novel that may help readers appreciate their own, singular, similarly flawed realities.