An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance

Young Adult - Social Issues
224 Pages
Reviewed on 04/07/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance by Daniel Micko is the story of two 8th graders who fall in love but not by choice. Our protagonists grew up in Modesto, California, in conservative Muslim families where right was right and wrong was wrong. Brooklyn Jennings and Sydney Troller create the GSA, Gay Straight Alliance, to pay tribute to the bad girls of history, but it ends up being where they both fell in love with each other. They do so reluctantly, but their feelings are undeniable no matter how hard they try. The two bicker and haggle, but at the end of the day, their feelings won't go away. But how can they act on their feelings? One's family drama is crippling, whereas the other's family drama is maddening. What will happen when that madness threatens the girls and the GSA? Are Sydney and Brooklyn brave enough to let their feelings blossom?

Beautifully messy and written with perfection in mind, An Eight Grade Gay Straight Alliance is outrageously entertaining. Sydney and Brooklyn are surprisingly complex and mature for their age. They are teenagers with the souls of adults who have lived through lifetimes already. Their romance is incredibly sweet. I particularly loved scenes when the two sneak looks at each other or bicker because this is the only way they can acknowledge their feelings. The twist in the story surprised me, even if I was expecting it. The execution of each twist and turn intrigued me and made me want to read more. The pace was fast, the characters had a lot of time to develop, and the overall feel of the story was fantastic. I loved how Sydney and Brooklyn were observant enough to discover their mistakes but also those of the adults around them. Daniel Micko did something incredible with this story and I urge everyone to read it at least once.

Pikasho Deka

An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance is a young adult drama novel by Daniel Micko. Sydney Troller is an eighth-grader prone to panic attacks and inexplicable outbursts. Living in Modesto, California, with a single mother, Sydney is only comfortable around her best friend, Roberta Chavez. But when the confident cosplay enthusiast Brooklyn Jennings proposes a plan to start the first Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in their class, Sydney excitedly joins the group alongside her classmates. Despite being quite at odds with each other initially, Sydney and Brooklyn soon develop a mutual friendship that evolves into a burgeoning romantic relationship. However, tragedy strikes when Brooklyn's extremist uncle from Syria arrives in town, leading to the death of one of Sydney's closest friends. How will the eighth graders cope with the tragic loss of their friend?

An engaging coming-of-age tale with poignant social commentary, An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance is a relevant book for our times. With a compelling story, Daniel Micko sheds light on some notable ills that plague society, such as homophobia, bigotry, and religious fanaticism that rejects and punishes people for being different. Micko seamlessly integrates these themes into the narrative, adding weight to the gravity of the story. Sydney and Brooklyn have completely opposite personalities. While Brooklyn is calculating and calm, Sydney is impulsive and, at times, even explosive. This makes for a riveting relationship dynamic between the two main characters. Overall, I very much enjoyed An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance, and recommend it to readers who love coming-of-age stories.

Essien Asian

Six students band together to form a social group where they are free to be themselves and comfortable discussing any topic. They call it the Gay Straight Alliance. Brooklyn, Sydney, Chavez, Kylie, Paul, and Aaron are connected not just by attending the same school but are bound by the social conventions of the day. As innocent as this group appears on the surface, each member has something personal that they are grappling to come to terms with. None is willing to bring their inner fears to the fore until the day that tragedy strikes. For Sydney, this setback would force her to reconsider the basis of her existence as she is African-American, gay, and Muslim all at the same time, as readers will discover in Daniel Micko's An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance.

Daniel Micko takes on not one but many thorny issues in this interesting novel. His principal protagonist is fleshed out reasonably well as are the peripheral characters in this emotional account. What makes it even more unusual is the way Micko adopts an unusually blunt approach when relating their origin stories, which mirrors the disjointed nonchalance that is a hallmark of modern youth parlance. The way he brings Sydney’s deepest fears about her sexual orientation into perspective is impressive and highlights the questions that are gradually taking center stage in America. With the changing times and perceptions, An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance could not have appeared at a more opportune moment. Micko deserves acclaim for this thought-provoking novel.

Maria Victoria Beltran

An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance is a thought-provoking novel by Daniel Micko. The story follows Sydney Troller and Brooklyn Jennings, both 8th-grade Muslim girls who have known each other since elementary school. When Brooklyn decides to form a Gay Straight Alliance organization (GSA), they get to know each other better. The GSA does not work with any parents or teachers and Brooklyn’s theme is to do something that honors critical women in the past and promotes acceptance between sexes. Sydney and Jennings fall in love and their journey is not easy as they face challenges like the death of a friend and conducting a gay relationship in the conservative environment of Modesto, California. Can the girls stick together as they go through these difficult times?

Daniel Micko’s An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance is a compelling young adult novel that tackles some controversial social issues. Beautifully written, it captures the struggles of Sydney and Brooklyn as they explore their sexuality and identity in a conservative environment. The theme is highly relevant and the story is heartwarming as it offers hope for the future. The narrative is written from the perspective of Sydney Troller which allows readers to relate to her and the other characters in the novel. Readers should find themselves rooting for the girls as they face their challenges. Overall, An Eighth Grade Gay Straight Alliance is a coming-of-age story that deals with relevant themes like identity, friendship, love, and acceptance. I highly recommend this novel to young readers.