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The Fights That Make Us by Sarah Hagger-Holt - Review

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Still keeping on with my reading LGBTQ+ books for June, I took two books by Sarah Hagger-Holt on holiday with me because I've had them for a while and wanted to get to them. I've read and enjoyed two previous books by Sarah, so I knew I was in for some good stories. I genuinely think she's one of the best UK based middle grade authors out there at the moment. Plus all her books feature queer kids or families, which I love. I'm here for representation of all types of families in kids books, of course!

So, this book is about Jesse. They are twelve years old, and nonbinary. They're out to their parents and brother Tom, who is now off at university. Their best friend is Simran, who is pansexual. The two spend their weekends at queer bookshop and cafe Over the Rainbow. Jesse doesn't find it easy to get on at school due to some bullying, but they have this brilliant history called Ms Grant. She wants all the kids to choose a subject to do a special presentation on. Sim and Jesse aren't sure what to do theirs on.

But then Jesse's mum's cousin Lisa dies. Lisa lived with Jesse's mum's family for a bit when she was sixteen, but Jesse's mum isn't sure why exactly, as she was only five ish at the time. Lisa's brother Matthew now lives in Australia. Lisa has died and Jesse's mum takes them and Sim to the funeral. Lisa was a lesbian, and her friends have organised the funeral. They asks Jesse and Sim to find something in the loft, and as they're doing so, they find an old box full of Lisa's stuff. 

There's her diary, which starts in 1987 when she is getting friendly with a girl called Nicky. She thinks she's in love with Nicky but she knows her family will never accept it. Plus there's a new piece of legislation - Clause 28 (known as Section 28 when it was passed as law) - being considered. Nicky wants to protest it, and in 1988 she persuades Lisa and their friend Andy to go with her to London for the protest. The box is full of other relics of Lisa's teenage years too - her Dr Marten boots, a waistcoat, and a T shirt from the day of the protest. 

Jesse is intrigued to learn about their community, their history, and how this fits into their place in the world. I like Jesse and I liked getting to know Lisa through her diary. This is a very sweet book with very important messages. I'm giving it four out of five, 

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