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And they lived . . .
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Publishers Weekly Review
As viral film sensation and self-described "uncoordinated queer AF Disnerd Chase Arthur," who is white, starts college, there's a lot on his mind: avoiding his ex-best-friend on campus, becoming an animator for Disney, maybe falling in love, navigating body dysmorphia and disordered eating, and figuring out his gender identity and "the whole pronoun question." He quickly befriends his roommate, "pure gay chaos" Italian American Benny and suitemate Xavier, Black and also gay, then meets adorably masc, white student Jack Reid, who's as passionate about writing as Chase is about animation. Though Chase can't tell whether Jack's queer or into him, he can't help making the lead characters in his tropey fairy tale animation project resemble the two of them. Salvatore (Can't Take That Away) renders Chase's experiences sympathetically, uses the animation project to create a romantic story-within-a-story, and fills the book with funny, pop-inflected dialogue. Taking on coming out, the challenges of art-making, the importance of mentors who get where one is coming from, and the joys and terrors of romance, Salvatore sweeps readers off their feet. Ages 14--up. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary. (Mar.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 10 Up-- After his gay stop-motion videos of Disney characters went viral during his senior year of high school, Chase, a queer nonbinary artist, is living his happily ever after as he starts freshman year in a prestigious animation program. But the reality of figuring out his gender identity, dealing with family trauma, fighting a bitter rivalry with a former best friend, and beginning a secret romance that has him questioning his self-worth is hardly the stuff of fairy tales. This novel is complicated, full of messy, flawed humans discovering themselves, their art, and how they want to live as brand new adults. Salvatore handles Chase's body dysmorphia and eating disorder recovery with sensitive realism, acknowledging how it affects every aspect of his life, without letting the disorder become his defining characteristic. Chase and most of the main characters are white, with some diversity in secondary characters. VERDICT A sex-positive, LGBTQIA+ romp through an artist's freshman year of college, with quick, witty dialogue and sure pacing that makes it a perfect crossover title for older teens and college students in the vein of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl and Margot Wood's Fresh.--Molly Saunders
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