Friday, October 29, 2021

Frankie & Bug and The Last Chance for Logan County

Forman, Gayle. Frankie & Bug
October 12th 2021 by Aladdin
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central

Bug (Beatrice) is looking forward to spending the summer of 1987 hanging out at Venice Beach with her older brother Daniel, just like they have for the past several years. When Danny wants more "space", their mother decides that she will instead have to hang out at their apartment. One neighbor, Hedvig, watches out for her, as does Phillip. When Phillip's nephew, Frankie, shows up from Ohio to spend the summer, Bug is expected to hang out with him, even though he doesn't like the beach. Instead, he is enthralled by the Midnight Marauder, who is terrorizing the area, bludgeoning unsuspecting victims. Bug's mother works for the local mayor's office, and keeps assuring them that they are safe, but they doubt her. When gangs of skinheads threaten Bug and her brother because of his Salvadoran looks, and Phillip is beaten up because he is gay, safety seems like a precarious state. Frankie becomes more comfortable in his new environment, and it turns out that he was sent to live with Phillip to get some "nonsense out of his system"-- Frankie is transgender, and wasn't even aware that there was a word for how he identified until he meets others like him in the area. When Aunt Teri comes to watch Bug (and reluctantly, Frankie), family secrets come out, and Bug must learn to make peace with her judgmental aunt and learn to support her new friend. 

There are a growing number of books addressing LGBTQIA+ issues in the 1980s, including Papademtriou's Apartment 1986 and Pixley's Trowbridge Road, and it's interesting to see this issue from a historical perspective. It's hard for younger readers to understand just how much things have changed. AIDS doesn't make the news quite as much today, but was certainly a huge concern at the time, and unfortunately, the views of this disease resulted in the mistreatment of the gay population. I did appreciate that Ryan White was mentioned as someone who was affected by this disease through a blood transfusion. 

Bug's desire to hang out on the beach and explore her world might be novel to young readers who are never allowed out of the house without direct adult supervision, and the idea that Danny could be out because he was a boy will also be an indication that this is historical fiction. The vibrant culture of Venice Beach during this period of history is nicely explained, and while I'm not sure the Midnight Marauder was an actual person, the inclusion of this mystery is certainly in keeping with the news of the time. 

Readers who enjoyed Lisa Bunker's Zenobia July or Gephardt's Lily and Dunkin and the sense of supportive community depicted in those books will find Bug's summer of growth and change an interesting time to visit.

Frankie was treated much  more kindly that he probably would actually have been in the 1980s. It's hard to believe how badly the LGBTQIA+ community was treated in the past, and I'm not sure how  much we need modern children to understand about this. 

Giles, Lamar. The Last Chance for Logan County
(The Legendary Alston Boys #3)
October 19th 2021 by Versify
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This was a nice wrap up of Otto and Sheed's story, with a bit of a surprise light romance. It seemed somehow goofier than the first two books, but was a fun fantasy romp.


In this third Legendary Alston Boys adventure, Otto and Sheed have to team up with the Ellison twins to take down a corporation obsessed with the weirdness of Logan County and that's turning its residents into Money-Zombies.

With the Rorrim Mirror Emporium closed and their adventures through the last mirror on the left behind them, Otto and Sheed are ready for things to get back to normal. But the FixItYall that Sheed took warned of side effects and they quickly come true—starting with a thunderstorm raining frogs. But that's only the beginning. Teachers begin quitting suddenly, vets leave their animals behind, and a strange goat starts delivering takeout orders. When a suspicious company known as GOO, obsessed with Logan County's weirdness, shows up and starts buying all the property in town and threatening to take Sheed away after some strange new energy is traced back to him, the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County, along with Otto's mom, Sheed's dad, and the Ellison twins, have to find a way to save their town and keep their family together. 

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