Review: Alice Austen Lived Here by Alex Gino

Title: Alice Austen Lived Here
Author: Alex Gino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Page Length: 176
Genre: Contemporary
Age Range: Middle Grade
Rep: Queer, Nonbinary
Rating: 4.25⭐

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Melissa, a phenomenal novel about queerness past, present, and future.

Sam is very in touch with their own queer identity. They’re nonbinary, and their best friend, TJ, is nonbinary as well. Sam’s family is very cool with it… as long as Sam remembers that nonbinary kids are also required to clean their rooms, do their homework, and try not to antagonize their teachers too much.

The teacher-respect thing is hard when it comes to Sam’s history class, because their teacher seems to believe that only Dead Straight Cis White Men are responsible for history. When Sam’s home borough of Staten Island opens up a contest for a new statue, Sam finds the perfect non-DSCWM subject: photographer Alice Austen, whose house has been turned into a museum, and who lived with a female partner for decades.

Soon, Sam’s project isn’t just about winning the contest. It’s about discovering a rich queer history that Sam’s a part of — a queer history that no longer needs to be quiet, as long as there are kids like Sam and TJ to stand up for it.


Thanks to Edelweiss and Scholastic for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Alex Gino is one of my autobuy middle grade writers so when I saw they had another one releasing I had to request it. This is one of the shorter books I’ve read by them, but the more educational one. I found out more LGBTQIA+ and Staten Island.

I loved that Alex had Alice as a unapologetic nonbinary middle grader. They are already sure of their identity and want to promote the LGBTQIA+ community already. The amount of research they and their friend did together and it being local stories from local people made it extra sweet. I also loved that their identity wasn’t in question in this book. We’re here to learn about the LGBTQIA+ Community within Staten Island along with them and little else. It was nice to see that in a middle grade.

I dont know if any of Gino’s books will ever reach the level of love I have of Melissa, but this one is definitely second. I loved the more of a personable historical story and less of a self-discovery story this time around. If you loved Gino’s others work or live in Staten Island then this is a must read!

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