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Review of Draw the Line

linn_draw the lineDraw the Line
by Laurent Linn; illus. by the author
High School    McElderry    520 pp.
5/16    978-1-4814-5280-9    $17.99    g
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5282-3    $10.99

Adrian’s junior year in high school is not going well. A self-loathing closeted teen stuck in small-town Texas, he’s surrounded by “Bubbas” whose primary values are football and beer. Although he finds solace in his friends — goth-lite Trent and smart, stylish “plus-size black girl” Audrey — Adrian’s only true reprieve from the world of Bubbas is when he draws his anonymously published webcomic about an openly gay superhero, Graphite. (Episodes of the comic, illustrated by Linn, are interspersed throughout.) When the only out kid in school is brutally beaten by a bully, Adrian uncharacteristically attempts to intervene. In doing so, he accidentally semi-outs himself by association, making his life simultaneously much worse (he is now under constant threat from bullies) and much better (he gains a hot boyfriend). Adrian uses Graphite to process the events in his life, and his webcomic becomes increasingly autobiographical, spurring on a final showdown between Adrian and another bully at the Halloween Hoedown — with Adrian dressed up as Graphite. Despite Adrian’s bitter and sardonic narration, this is a story of love triumphing over hate and art defeating bigotry. Like Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Tim Federle’s The Great American Whatever (rev. 3/16), this book compellingly explores the thrills of first relationships and the complexities of life as a not-quite-out gay teen.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kazia Berkley-Cramer

Kazia Berkley-Cramer is a former editorial intern at The Horn Book.

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