Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill
To fix his life, bullied and closeted fifteen-year-old Wyatt goes public with real historical evidence that Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy—triggering a backlash and media firestorm that might destroy everything he cares about.
Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.75 out of 10
Plot: Wind's engaging, utterly enjoyable tale of teen self-discovery is riveting both for its well-structured, historically-based plot and its emotional honesty. Snappily paced and filled with insightful details, the story turns heteronormative culture on its head as Wyatt, the thoroughly likable protagonist, takes on a battle for historical truth that leaves his small-town neighbors clutching their pearls.
Prose: Wind’s polished prose is filled with laugh-out-loud moments, often thanks to the author’s ability to zero in on the perfect descriptive detail. But it is the dialogue that shines brightest, capturing both the insult-laden banter of teens and the awkward sincerity of the adults struggling to manage them.
Originality: In taking on this slice of Civil War-era history, Wind brings historical material into contemporary relevance in a unique and original way. The use of social media posts and transcriptions provides even more freshness and present-day appeal to the story.
Character Development: Wind provides an accurate portrayal of the coping mechanisms, unwieldy emotions, and ultimately the inner triumph of a teen struggling to make the world ready for him to come out of the closet. A resonant and admirably crafted work.
Date Submitted: August 02, 2018
In a smart coming-of-age story, 15-year-old Wyatt is a closeted teen living in the conservative, Abraham Lincoln-obsessed community of Lincolnville, Ore. Wyatt is pretty certain that Lincolnville isn’t ready to embrace him if he comes out, so he operates under a facade, even—due to a misunderstanding—dating his best friend, Mackenzie. More than ever, Wyatt is feeling guilty, confused, and painfully aware of how much he wants gay role models. But while researching a school report on Lincoln, he discovers correspondence between Lincoln and his best friend, Joshua Speed. Compelling evidence suggests to Wyatt that the president and Speed were in love. When Wyatt excitedly publishes his revelation online (“I mean, if Abe was gay, and great, it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?”), it leads to an epic uproar and an unleashing of homophobia directed at Wyatt. But it also leads Wyatt to find courage and the possibility of romance. Wind integrates a timely discussion about challenging long-held myths about history. Though the third-person narration creates a degree of distance between Wind’s protagonist and the reader, Wyatt’s experiences are nevertheless profound and honest. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)