Title: Year of the Guilty Soul (novella)
Print Length: 74 pages
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Publication Date: July 28, 2018
Keywords: bisexual, genderqueer, literary YA, romantic elements, religious (Christianity & Judaism)
Blurb: The year is 1991, and Antonia “Toni” Moskowitz is caught in the middle, always having to pick a side. Whether it’s between her family’s two religions or in her relationships, she has choices to make. Does her heart belong to the outgoing boy with the lime-green nails or the girl in the black velvet skirt? Where does she fit in when both gender and gender roles feel confining?
But learning who she is and who she wants to be with has a price. Every decision has consequences, especially when some kinds of love and expression are still taboo. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between being good and being right. Four seasons. Four kisses. One year to figure out what her heart wants
Part of Seasons of Love Anthology.
No Spoiler Review: I couldn’t identify more with the protagonist if I tried. Where to begin. Oh, identity and its ramifications. Toni is caught between faiths, at an impressionable age, uncertain of her identity, and confused as to how it all fits together. She faces temptation from both genders, and she doesn’t know what to make of it besides guilt. There’s uncertainty and confusion on all levels and, yes, that was me at the same age (though in the 1980s). I wasn’t caught between faiths, but I knew the one I was being raised in wasn’t right for me. However, at that age, most of us have no choice.
What I Liked Loved: A.M. Leibowitz does a masterful job of handling Toni’s confusion and sense of guilt, detailing it through a first person POV. This was a walk through my teen years, a reminder of how difficult it really is when you don’t know who you are or where you’re going. Decisions are everything and Toni doesn’t know which way will be the right one.
Concerns: This was too short! Greedy reader speaking here but, really, I wanted to know more about Toni’s struggles, about how she copes, manages, and grows. That said, leaving things as they were was okay too. We all have our own paths, and we can speculate about how Toni fared.
My review rating: Well, I don’t really do those anymore, but I can say with confidence that Year of the Guilty Soul is well worth the modest price but go find an early 90s playlist to listen to while you read.
About the Author: A. M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings. Their published fiction includes several novels as well as a number of short works, and their stories have been included in anthologies from Supposed Crimes, Beaten Track, Witty Bard, and Mischief Corner Books. They are an occasional host for The BiCast, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website. They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post about news, reviews, and updates for the website. In between noveling and freelance editing, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, books, and their family.