Gow, Robin. A Million Quiet Revolutions. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2022. 336p. ISBN: 9780374388416 $18.99 HS *****
This YA contemporary in verse follows two queer best friends who fall in love while coming to terms with their identities as trans boys. When one of them moves away, the two seek comfort by digging into queer history. In doing so, they become taken with the tale of two Revolutionary War soldiers rumored to be two trans men in love. Feeling a need to honor this piece of history, the two adopt the soldiers’ names for themselves—Aaron and Oliver—and delve deeper into queer and trans history together.
A Million Quiet Revolutions is a thoughtful queer love story that has a dreamy and lyrical tone thanks to its verse structure; much of the novel takes the form of letters between the two boys. Aaron and Oliver fluidly go from friends to boyfriends, and they experience many major moments together: coming out, changing their names, purchasing their first binders. While first and foremost a romance, the novel also tackles many heavier topics. Aaron’s family has recently moved in the aftermath of his older brother coming forward about sexual abuse within their church. Aaron is struggling to understand what his brother is going through and is trying to adjust to a new school, while also struggling with a family that isn’t as supportive as Oliver’s. Both Aaron and Oliver are trying to adapt to being apart, and their relationship changes shape as they figure out what they want.
In terms of representation, both Aaron and Oliver are gay transgender boys. Aaron is Puerto-Rican, while Oliver is white and Jewish, and there are minor characters who are queer and/or BIPOC. It should be noted that the book does deal with sexual abuse, homophobia, and transphobia. There is sex scene included (that models consent and healthy communication!); librarians may want to take this into account when recommending, as younger readers may not be ready for such content.
Overall, A Million Quiet Revolutions is a poetic, beautiful, and lyrical YA romance that is also a love letter to queer and trans history. It is about the power of finding yourself reflected in stories and about reclaiming our stories. Readers who enjoy verse novels like Me (Moth), Every Body Looking, or The Black Flamingo will enjoy this one. I will also be recommending it to fans of Anna-Marie McLemore, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Aiden Thomas. A Million Quiet Revolutions is an excellent purchase for public and high school libraries, and Robin Gow is an author to watch.
–Ari Nussbaum, Hayward Public Library
Tags: Coming of age, Diverse, LGBTQ+, People of color, Poetry, Realistic, Romance