Candlewick Press

November 2020

$17.99 AUD

112p pb

ISBN: 978-1536215779

fp October 2012

October Mourning: A Song For Matthew Shepard

Lesléa Newman

from Walker Books...

On the night of October 6, 1998, a gay twenty-one-year-old college student named Matthew Shepard was lured from a Wyoming bar by two young men, savagely beaten, tied to a remote fence, and left to die. Gay Awareness Week was beginning at the University of Wyoming, and the keynote speaker was Lesléa Newman, discussing her book Heather Has Two Mommies. Shaken, the author addressed the large audience, but she remained haunted by Matthew’s murder. 

October Mourning, a novel in verse, is her deeply felt response to the events of that tragic day. Using her poetic imagination, the author creates fictitious monologues from various points of view, including the fence Matthew was tied to, the stars that watched over him, the deer that kept him company, and Matthew himself. More than two decades later, the Stonewall Award–winning cycle of sixty-eight poems still serves as a powerful, enduring tribute to Matthew Shepard’s life.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman is a book written in verse. It is about the beating and killing of Matthew Shepard, 21, who was gay. There are 68 poems that tell the story in five parts. The poems are fictitious but are based on the beating and killing of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Before the poems actually begin there is an introduction which provides a bit of background information to help the reader understand the context of the poems and at the end there is an afterword which is the author’s personal account of Matthew Shepard’s murder and the events that followed. It is highly recommended to read both the introduction and the afterward. The book also includes bibliographical references if people want to look into the story further.

October Mourning outlines the hate crime that was committed against Matthew. The poems are from different perspectives that range from the deer that was beside him to the fence he was tied to. It is a touching collection of poems. Some are not long and others are. It is a fairly easy book to read but is definitely for mature readers and those who can understand and respect the topic. It is very beautifully written and is a very good read, so I would encourage people, particularly those interested in gay and lesbian rights, to read this book.

Chloe, age 15, Canberra, Australia

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