“My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family” (Gotham Books, April 26,2012; 235 pages; $26) isn’t the most elegant, sophisticated book on the planet, but it’s methodical, intelligent and passionate. Zach Wahls, the Iowa City college student whose three-minute speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31, 2011, ignited a YouTube/media frenzy, has spent the past year speaking on the lecture circuit, developing several entrepreneurial ventures and writing his first book. He says “My Two Moms” ultimately is designed to give courage to other children of same-sex couples. It serves a much greater purpose. It’s really a primer on how to raise amazing children in a home filled with love, commitment and acceptance, despite the unspeakable obstacles of his birth mother’s debilitating illness, extended family skepticism and playground bullying. The Eagle Scout builds each chapter around the primary tenets he learned through his many years with the Boy Scouts of America, dovetailed with the “Teaching Your Children Values” book chapters discussed daily around his family’s dinner table. It’s a purposeful dichotomy, given the Boy Scouts’ national stance against homosexuality and the acceptance his family found on the local Scouting level every step of the way. Whether or not your principles line up with his, he makes a compelling case for marriage equality. The state-champion debater fills every “what about” loophole. He’s heard them all. The prose is heartfelt, the style naive. His use of parenthetical asides diminishes the punch of his points, and yet, those comments remind us that he is just 20 years old. He is a powerful voice for gay rights, human rights, civil rights and constitutional rights, borne from experience and example. He does Iowa proud. Mostly, he does himself and his family proud.

 -- Diana Nollen