Review – I’ll Take Everything You Have by James Klise

Posted March 3, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – I’ll Take Everything You Have by James KliseI'll Take Everything You Have by James Klise
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on February 28, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / LGBTQ
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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From an Edgar Award-winning author, this historical noir novel follows the life-changing summer of sixteen-year-old Joe Garbe as he discovers queer community in 1930s Chicago and gets caught up in the city's crooked underbelly.
In the summer of 1934, Joe Garbe arrives in Chicago with one goal: Earn enough money to get out of debt and save the family farm. Joe’s cousin sets him up with a hotel job, then proposes a sketchy scheme to make a lot more money fast. While running his con, Joe finds himself splitting time between Eddie, a handsome flirt on a delivery truck, and Raymond, a carefree rich kid who shows Joe the eye-opening queer life around every corner of the big city.
Joe’s exposure to the surface of criminal Chicago pulls him into something darker than he could have imagined. When danger closes in—from gangsters, the police, and people he thought were friends—Joe needs to pack up and get lost. But before he can figure out where to go, he has to decide who he wants to be.
I’ll Take Everything You Have is a vivid portrayal of queer coming of age in Depression-era Chicago, and a timeless story of trying to make your future bright when the rest of the world is dead set on keeping it hidden in the dark.

I enjoyed this one! It did take a bit before the story really hooked me but once it did, I had a hard time putting it down. Joe goes to Chicago to make some money to send back home to his mother and save their farm. Times are hard and Joe is not afraid of hard work but he is soon drawn into a less-than-honest way to make some real money. I was incredibly worried about how things would work out for Joe before this book drew to a close.

I liked Joe right away but I cannot say the same thing for his cousin, Bernie. I feel like he grew and learned a lot about himself over the course of the story. Joe has always tried to do what is expected of him but while he is in Chicago he is able to explore his true feelings and what he really wants out of life. He spent time with two very different young men, Raymond and Eddie. Things aren’t always what they seem and Joe learns a lot about the kind of man he wants to be. I thought that the fact that the book was set in the 1930s made the story even more interesting.

I would recommend this book to others. I found this to be a very well-done coming-of-age story. I really liked the characters and loved the way the setting came alive. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there were a few twists that made the story even more interesting. I would not hesitate to read more of James Klise’s work in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Algonquin Young Readers.

6 responses to “Review – I’ll Take Everything You Have by James Klise

  1. A noir tends to take me a bit longer to get fully hooked too but this sounds really good! It’s been awhile since I read a noir and I love the setting.