I found this cutie in the kids’ new books section at the library. Basically, 12 year-old Grayson was born a boy but feels like a girl on the inside. In this 243 page children’s novel, Grayson deals with various life crises, blossoms in new ways, and faces some hard truths about the world.
I’m all for children’s books that navigate the tricky paths of gender identity and difficult social situations. This one not only does so (ahem) gracefully enough, but also ends on an uplifting, hopeful note that will be desirable to its audience of 10-13 year old kids. If a queer kid (or future queer kid) happens to come upon this book, he or she will probably feel both relieved and empowered. I would have.
Yay! Another queer indie! Leap is pretty good. The year is 1979 and our protagonist Rowan has just finished high school in her small town and is spending her last summer before college working at the local burger joint. There’s lots of stuff going on (as there always is when you’re 18 and on the cusp of life), but the main thing is that there’s a new girl in town and Rowan’s about to get in her first relationship…
The writing is quite good– the 223 pages give you LOTS of information. There are lots of parallel side plots, the character development is good, and certain things are left unexplained in just the right way. I’ll be looking for more from this writer.
Who: Closeted teenage lesbian weightlifter/plumber/softballer Mike
What: While dealing with her dad’s death, her messed up family, and her “blossoming” sexuality, a new “big city” badgirl named Xanadu moves to town and rocks Mike’s world.
When: present day in an old-fashioned place
Where: A small town far, far away from the West Coast
A totally legit, multi-layered book. Sometimes I only believed in the characters 90%, but that might be because I’m at least 10 years older than the intended audience. But. There’s dimension and it’s well-written and things don’t all come together perfectly– and you really do get a lot in the 282 pages that you’re given.
This is a quick little YA coming out/coming of age story. After the kids at his high school find out he’s gay, our protagonist Will loses his sense of place. It’s a messy little story, kind of like real life, and kind of like the author was trying to make the 142 pages as meaty as possible.
Matt begins dating an older guy online, he had strong emotions about what’s going on in the life of his BFF, he explores his feelings about the out-ness of the other gay boy at school, and he acts like a bog ol’ jerk for a lot of the book. Basically, he’s a teenage mess, which is developmentally normal.
It didn’t change my life, and it’s not too unlike a lot of other gay lit I’ve read– the but I can see how this book could be really important for some readers in need of coming-out companionship (if they were able to get past the title).
Get a copy here!
This is the first book I’ve ever read about teenage lesbians in Iran.
So if you don’t already know, homosexuality is illegal in Iran. It can be punishable by death. Women must cover their heads when outdoors, and arranged marriages are fairly common. Obviously, it’s an entire country with lots of other dimension, too– but these are some of the ways that it differs from my life in a liberal city on the west coast of the USA.
Our protagonist Sahar and her BFF Nasrin have been in love since they were children. It’s a secret that’s pretty much been going fine until just recently when Nasrin’s parents have arranged a marriage for her. Nasrin decides to go with it because she doesn’t want consequences, and Sahar’s really upset. Her disquiet leads her into an Iranian queer underground that her cousin Ali is close to the top of…
If You Could be Mine was awesome; the setting was super interesting to me. I thought it wrapped up a little quickly– I want a sequel. Check this book out for its unique context, its solid writing, and its decent amount of depth for a YA novel.
So pretty much every LGBT book list ever was recommending that I read Chulito.
So I did, and it was a sound choice.
The amount of information that gets packed into the novel’s 317 pages is amazing. It’s a lush story that has a beginning, a large middle body, and a tidy ending. I found myself yearning to read it when I was doing other things. Chulito, the main character, is around 16 years old and lives in the Bronx. He’s a sweet boy at heart, but has fallen into a bit of a dangerous path of dropping out of school and becoming the neighborhood drug dealer’s right-hand man. He’s a bit of a teen thug and spends his days on the street corner clad in designer clothing (bought with drug money), drinking, and shooting the shit with the neighborhood guys.
The book is packed with information, and any attempt to further summarize it would take hours. What I will say, however, is that Chulito is a coming of age novel. So it turns out that Chulito’s not as heterosexual as he’d always assumed. In his process of coming to terms with this, issues such as sexism, heterosexism, responsibility, transphobia, and more are also addressed in the book. Read it.
There’s some “thoroughly described” sex in it, which (oddly) made me a little uncomfortable. I’m thinking that might be because the character is a teenager and I’m moments away from 30, and starting to feel like there’s more of a divide between me and young people. Even though at that age I was doing similar (girl versions of that) stuff and would have found those sections totally awesome. At first I just figured the author was being a letchy old man, but then I read more about him and changed my mind.
(My ONE big critique: the “clean-up” of the story is a bit too tidy to be completely believable. Granted, I stated earlier that the ending was satisfying- and it was. But it was also kind of soft.)
Find a copy at the LIBRARY! YAY!