Book review: Stonewall, by Ann Bausum

Bausum, Ann. Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights. Viking. 2015. $16.99. 128p. HC. 978-0670016792.

Bausum StonewallIn 1969, when being gay in the US was a criminal defense, many sought refuge and community at the mafia-run Stonewall Inn, a gay bar. To curb mafia activity and public acts of homosexuality, there were frequent police raids on gay bars. One hot June night, there was a raid meant to be like any other. However, on this night, the customers hit their breaking point and refused to cooperate with the constant harassment. Rather than dispersing, they remained in the streets, and soon the raid turned into a riot. This riot became a catalyst for a larger demand for gay rights. This nonfiction title aimed at young adults fully immerses readers into that night and the days that followed. The last few chapters focus on what has happened since including a brief overview of the AIDS epidemic and the current fight for marriage equality. This slim novel is sprinkled with historical photos.

This is a powerful and inspiring book. Readers should be prepared to be moved, and might even need a few tissues (this reviewer did). At 128 pages, this is a short and fast-paced read, especially since Bausum throws readers right into the action. Readers will want to savor and sip at this book but will likely end up devouring its entirety in a few quick hours. It is apparent this story was well researched. Bausum remains factual while also telling the story with empathy and obvious support of gay rights.

I highly recommend this book for any teen with an interest in history and social equality. It has the potential to lead to great discussion. It is also very timely- not just for what is happening with gay rights right now but also for its discussion of police and riots and how change happens. Expect to see this book on best of the year lists.

Jenna Friebel, Youth Services Librarian
Deerfield (IL) Public Library

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