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The Full Spectrum

Review

The Full Spectrum

Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish philosopher and essayist, coined the term "Worship of Silence," referring to the sacred respect for restraint in speech until "thought has silently matured itself,…to hold one's tongue till some meaning lie behind to set it wagging." If Carlyle's assertion that silence is the forge from which anything truly great is born, it seems fitting that one of this year's most powerful anthologies for young adults comes from the pens of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and questioning writers whose sexuality has often been relegated to quiet, shadowy corridors. And as Carlyle further suggests, it was only a matter of time before the silence came to a stop.

THE FULL SPECTRUM is a collection of essays and poems from GLBTQ writers ages 13-23. Compiled by David Levithan (BOY MEETS BOY) and Billy Merrell (TALKING IN THE DARK), these stories offer a keen insight into the minds of contemporary GLBTQ youth. You may think you know each story --- the heartbreak of coming out, the angst of unrequited affection --- but the power of the writing herein overrides any familiarity and allows even readers who've lived through similar circumstances to approach the material with new eyes and new hearts.

The young writers break new ground with thoughtful and (sometimes painfully) truthful assessments, not only of the world in which they live but of their own lives.  They are not looking to point fingers. They are not asking for pity. They know that any silence, any hiding that has come before, is only a small part of who they were and are, and the voices they speak with now are to be reckoned with. It's these new voices that will shepherd in a better understanding of their places in the world, now more disparate than desperate.

The most important message this collection delivers is: there's no turning back. As long as there is fear, there can never be change. With this decisive anthology, we begin to see a chink in the armor, a crack in the wall, and there's a sense that when this many writers can come forward to tell their stories, change can't be far behind. THE FULL SPECTRUM entices, enlightens and envisions a future where the progeny of thoughtful silence is a resounding shout heard across the universe. While the book stands for many ideas and ideals, it offers no agenda, save one.

Hear us.

Reviewed by Brian Farrey on May 9, 2006

The Full Spectrum
by David Levithan and Billy Merrell

  • Publication Date: May 9, 2006
  • Genres: Anthology, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375832904
  • ISBN-13: 9780375832901