Wednesday, March 1, 2023

"I'll Take Everything You Have"

James Klise’s new YA novel, I’ll Take Everything You Have, is a queer coming-of-age crime story set in 1934 Chicago. In a starred review, Kirkus promises "passionate, cinematic scenes" and "a thrillingly queer adventure." Publishers Weekly calls the book "an arresting narrative... and a mesmerizing snapshot of 1930s Chicago." Klise's previous novels for teens include the Edgar Award-winning The Art of Secrets and the ALA Stonewall Honor-winning Love Drugged. He lives with his husband in Chicago, where for the past two decades, he has overseen a very busy high school library.

Klise applied the Page 69 Test to I'll Take Everything You Have and reported the following:
Page 69 is the first page of a new chapter, so it’s shorter than most pages. However, the brief scene includes multiple vital threads of this story about crookedness and queerness in Chicago during the notoriously hot summer of 1934. Plus, the excerpt ends with a laugh (for me, at least, but, well, I work in a high school). Here we find 16-year-old Joe, the novel’s narrator, along with his older cousin Bernie, and Del, the middle-aged woman who sublets space to them in her apartment. It’s the Fourth of July. As they sit at the breakfast table, the trio discuss plans for the holiday.
Bernie looked at me. “Some pals and I are heading to the beach to watch the fireworks. Wanna tag along?”

“Thanks, I’m meeting a friend later to practice French.”

“Who? Kenrick?”

When I nodded, he only said, “Do what you have to.”

Del turned from the sink. “On Independence Day? Oh, nuts to that, Joe. I’d rather you be out playing games. Sack races or egg-tossing contests. A ballgame in the park even. It’s always been that a boy can find other boys for horseplay if he looks hard enough.”
The cousin understands Joe’s plan to be part of a criminal scheme they both are involved in, but the reader knows Joe is most excited about – secretly – the potential of being alone with Raymond Kenrick, and maybe even kissing him again. Meanwhile, their hostess Del, who hasn’t got wind of either of these motives, simply doesn’t like the idea of Joe practicing French on the national holiday.

With that bit of context, and because no one likes to fail a test, I submit that I’ll Take Everything You Have passes the Page 69 Test - hooray!
Learn more about the book and author at James Klise's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Secrets.

--Marshal Zeringue