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Book Review: Draw the Line by Laurent Linn

Publisher’s description

draw the lineAfter a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author.

Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented artist, a sci-fi geek, and gay, but at his Texas high school those traits would only bring him the worst kind of attention.

In fact, the only place he feels free to express himself is at his drawing table, crafting a secret world through his own Renaissance-art-inspired superhero, Graphite.

But in real life, when a shocking hate crime flips his world upside down, Adrian must decide what kind of person he wants to be. Maybe it’s time to not be so invisible after all—no matter how dangerous the risk.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

About 3/4 of the way through this book, Adrian says, “I’m not going to let people put me in some stupid category anymore, be a blank canvas for them to put on me whatever they think I am or want me to be. I’m going to show them who I really am.” (Am I the only one who immediately thinks of Cameron’s similar speech in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “I’m not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.”) And he does. Adrian spends a lot of the story working himself up to this point where he feels like he has to not only reveal his real self but start standing up for himself and for others.

 

When we first meet Adrian, he’s anonymously publishing an online comic about gay superhero Graphite. He’s gay but not out to anyone but his two best friends, Trent and Audrey. He tries to steer clear of the school bullies, Doug and Buddy, who are constantly spewing homophobic slurs. When he witnesses Doug assault Kobe Saito, the school’s only out gay kid, he’s forced to stop hiding and being anonymous. He isn’t sure what he can possibly do to help, though. Doug’s dad is the sheriff and the cops aren’t interested in what the truth is—clearly Doug was provoked, according to them, and it was self-defense. The administration at school is just as unhelpful. Audrey urges Adrian to speak out about this, make a big deal about what happened, seek out justice. Trent thinks Adrian should just lie low so he doesn’t end up getting beaten unconscious too. Adrian doesn’t know what he can really do—but he’s starting to realize he needs to do something. When he begins dating a classmate (who he never even guessed was gay, much less into him), Adrian starts to feel a little more comfortable in his skin and begins to take his stand. Through his artwork, he sends the message that it’s okay to stand up and speak out. To his surprise, Adrian learns that not everything is as cut and dry as Doug just being a horrible bully. He goes from thinking about revenge to thinking about how villains can turn into heroes, maybe. He continues to use his art to push his message and seek change. Why destroy when you can create?

 

Peppered with pages from Adrian’s comic, this is a powerful story about discovering who you are and standing up for what’s right. The heart of the story centers on a hate crime, but there’s also a lot more going on. There’s a really sweet romance, interesting friendship dynamics, and family issues. Through a local LGBT center and his new boyfriend, Adrian begins to find more of a community and make more friends at school. Well-written and engaging, this is an important addition to all collections. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss 

ISBN-13: 9781481452809

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: 05/17/2016

Portrait of the Artist: YA Characters and Art

March is Youth Art Month, a celebration of visual arts for grades K-12. The program ”emphasizes the value of art education for all children, encourages support for quality school art programs.” For more information on the program and resources for getting involved, check out the National Art Education Association’s website about Youth Art Month. 

 

To get your display started, here’s a list of a few recent titles with art at the center of the story. Summaries via the publisher or WorldCat. Have more titles to add? Leave us a comment or tweet us at  @TLT16 or @CiteSomething

 

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (2014)

Jamie Peterson has a problem: Even though he tries to keep his feelings to himself, everyone seems to know how he feels about Mason, and the girls in his art class are determined to help them get together. Telling the truth could ruin Jamie and Mason’s friendship, but it could also mean a chance at happiness. Falling in love is easy, except when it’s not, and Jamie must decide if coming clean to Mason is worth facing his worst fear.

 

The Art of Secrets by James Klise (2014)

When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her high school rallies around her. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba’s life turns upside down again. Soon students and teachers alike debate who should get the money, pointing fingers and making startling accusations. Through monologues, journal entries, interviews, articles, and official documents, the cast of characters reveal how they see what happened.

 

 

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin (2014)

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.

 

 

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

 

 

Tagged by Diane C. Mullen (3/10/2015)

Liam is a fourteen-year-old graffiti artist living in project housing in Minneapolis with his single mother and three younger siblings. When Liam’s estranged older brother coerces him to tag a graffiti symbol for a rival gang, Liam’s life is threatened. Due to his apathetic attitude in the classroom and on the baseball field, Liam’s private-school scholarship is also threatened. His mother decides to send him to Lake Michigan for the summer to live with her best friend, Kat, a sculptor and art teacher, Liam soon delves into the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, and his own personal aesthetics. He’s encouraged to consider his art seriously and how it might contribute to a greater community. Having to decide between staying with Kat and returning home to his siblings who need him, Liam’s story inspires him to reinvent himself for the better.

 

 

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller (2014)

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl. After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

 

 

Portrait of Us by Rhonda Helms and A. Destiny (2014)

Corinne is looking forward to a perfect summer taking classes at a local art studio, where a famous artist-in-residence will be teaching. She’s always wanted to focus more on her art, and the related competition (and grand prize) would be a perfect way to end the summer.

Her dreams become muddled when she finds out she has to work with Matthew—the arrogant, annoying jock whose postmodern style seriously clashes with her classic aesthetic.

But what she expects to be a total nightmare turns out to be something different when she finds that maybe, just maybe, Matthew isn’t as bad as she thought. Underneath that jock exterior, he might be someone Corinne could tolerate. Or possibly even like.

The question is…does Matthew feel the same way? Or is this all just a summer fling?

 

Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen (2014)

It was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years.

When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

 

Starry Night by Isabel Gillies (2014)

Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies’s Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

 

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington (2014)

When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, she’s thrilled. The school’s traditions and rituals may be a little strange, but for the first time ever she has her own studio, supplies—everything she could want. Including Malcolm Astor, a legacy student with his own art obsession. Liv’s defenses melt, despite warnings from fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols not to get involved with Malcom.

But her bliss is doomed; weeks after arriving, Liv is viciously murdered. Gabe, the only one who can see her, is now her sole link to the world of the living. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham.

 

If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.