Just a quickie (even though I think this book deserves more) :
If you’re looking for a super-smart teen protagonist, good (both rich and witty) dialogue, and lots of feelings, check out Beau, Lee, The Bomb, and Me. Our protagonist Rylee is super-smart, but fat and an outcast at school– she ends up going on a surprise road trip to San Francisco with Beau, a bullied gay kid at her school, and Leonie, her bff (of circumstance) who’s basically the class ho with a heart of gold (and as it turns out, lots of really good qualities).
While I didn’t find the entirety of the story 100% believable, lots of the different parts are really heartfelt, interesting, and awesome. Read it. You’ll get through it in about a day, and you’ll totally be googling the author to see if there is more. check it outtttt! Or buy it. It’s on sale for under $7.
I was totally into this one. Sweet late-bloomer flute-prodigy teenage Todd shares a ghost (Leroy) with his BFF Jennifer. In the midst of dealing with his alcoholic (librarian!) mom, realizing his sexuality, learning about a secret with his BFF, embarking on a major treasure hunt-ish challenge, (and more!), Todd learns exactly what the ghost is up to…
The writings good, the story kept me going, and there was a good bit of humor and dramatic irony nestled into the gravity of everything else. It’s different from the usual YA, which is pretty neat.
Small press gem! It’s the 1980’s. 18 y/o gay goth Matt lives in the ‘burbs near LA with his mom and step dad. Works at May Company. Spends his free time with his gothy girl bff’s getting fucked up, listening to music, buying stuff, going to clubs.
Interesting, upbeat writing, and if you were around in the 80’s– or know a lot about 80’s music (specifically the band Love and Rockets), you’re gonna be pretty jazzed. The writing in general is pretty good– you can tell that it might secretly be a just little bit autobiographical, and that the author might’ve been smirking a little (at himself) as he wrote it. Some of the plot devices kind of bugged me– but now that it’s been a couple weeks I’ve forgiven them. I saw Demcak read at a Radar reading and he’s a delight irl.
Check it out!
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!
The Tales of the City books were a big part of the wonderful literary freakshow that lured me (so passionately) to San Francisco over a decade ago. I loved that they were fast-paced and full of quirk– but still really, really real in their dealings with stuff like AIDS. They kept me awake, encouraged me to explore the city once I arrived, and made me feel so lucky to peer in on other people’s lives (even if they were fictional people).
The Days of Anna Madrigal marks the end of the series, as Anna is now an old woman (no longer independent, but still totally brilliant), and the other remaining originals are middle-aged (but not boring). Included elements and mentions are: more detail into Anna’s past, burning man, feminist blogging, San Francisco’s current gentrification…
I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down to do things like shower and go to work. Sometimes “final” books of series can feel like let downs, but this one didn’t. It’s up to the minute, tender, funny, and still a little mysterious. If you haven’t read its predecessors, read them first.
Get a copy here.
D Foster is the mysterious new girl that randomly wandered down Neeka and her best friend’s block one day and befriended them. Tupac is, well, Tupac. The three girls become BFF’s and bond over girlhood and a reverence for Tupac and his music (in terms of era, we begin before Tupac non-fatally gets shot the first time, and we end after his death from a different shooting). You may be thinking that sounds silly, or I don’t even like Tupac so why should I read this. But you should check it out! The author KILLS IT when writing about the effect that song lyrics or a performer’s persona has on you in those early teen years. The persona of Tupac is like a beacon and a friend in the lives of the girls, even though he lives nowhere near them and they listen to his music on a crackly tape of a tape, he’s just as present as, say, a mother or brother in their lives.
This children’s fiction (classified as “JF” at my library, probably best for 5th to 8th grade, but I’d also recommend it to older teens who are reluctant readers– or Tupac fans). It’s a short read, and is not just about ‘Pac– it also weaves in narratives of options for young black males, foster care, race, undeserved incarceration, having a gay family member, the fact of being female and growing up.
Check out a copy here!
This novella ended almost as quickly as it began, but its 137 pages are packed with lots of information. Our teen protagonist is gay and out only to his family and BFF, Jonathan. He totally wants to get down with Jonathan (also gay), but Jonathan says no, as he’s taken an interest in hooking up with lots of other guys. Theo’s dad is recovering from a brain injury and his step mom is overly obsessed with all the small details of Theo’s life, and Jonathan’s dad is a violent homophobe. Lots of events collide, and the ending, while mildly uplifting after an intense climax, is not a simple “happily ever after.”
It’s a weird little book with lots of complexities; its biggest strength is that it shows the messiness of humanity (as well as the importance having good people in your life). The ideas and emotions are really strong. The actual series of events didn’t really allure me too much, it seemed like certain happenings occurred without much purpose to the storyline. I would have liked for a lot of the side characters/events to be more fleshed out, and for this to be a novel, rather than a novella. I want Theo’s quirky 1st grade teacher who he met in the gay bar to show back up in later chapters, and for the little sister to have some kinda narrative-altering effects. That sort of thing.
I forget where I first read about this newish memoir, but I remember how totally freaking excited I was to put it on hold so that I could be one of the first to get it from the library. And so a few months later, the book finally came in, I read it, and I want more.
Aaron Hartzler grew up in a very, very, born again Christian family (like, they weren’t allowed to listed to Amy Grant, the Christian pop singer, because she allegedly drank alcohol sometimes, and they believed that The Rapture was imminent). Hartzler was a totally angelic child and helped his mom lead the bible club, played piano, was in Christian plays with the church, etc. On the outside, he was the perfect Born Again son. But there would be no memoir if the story was that simple.
Rapture Practice is the story of Hartzler’s growing consciousness as he got older that something didn’t quite fit for him with the religion. He wanted to listed to mainstream music. He realized that he didn’t want the Rapture to happen because he liked his life. He started partying in secret. He had very strong interests in and close friendships with other guys. He found that he had stopped believing a lot of what he learned at church.
critiques: I felt like the book ended abruptly: I want to read about what happened next. Something felt jarringly incomplete at the very end. The story didn’t end up going exactly the way that I wanted it to. I wish that his story included him doing things differently that the way he did them in real life. waaah, cry, whine.
Praise: A ton of information is packed into the mere 390 pages. As a writer, Hartzler knows what you want to read and what you care about– no space is wasted on the uninteresting. For a heathen like myself, it was really exciting to read about his family’s religion- it’s new ground for me. The path the book takes you on is interesting, the narrator is likable, the 1990’s references are fun to look back on, and I want to tell people all about it. Find a copy at your library here.
(Multiple covers AND titles!)
I found this book during my hunt for queer Canadian literature. The description, quite simply, made it too sound too bizarre to pass up:
Thirteen-year-old Peter Paddington is overweight, the subject of his classmates’ ridicule, and the victim of too many bad movie-of-the-week storylines. When his nipples begin speaking to him one day and inform him of their diabolical plan to expose his secret desires, Peter finds himself cornered in a world that seems to have no tolerance for difference. Peter’s only solace is “The Bedtime Movies” – perfect-world (*copied from the link below)
WorldCat lists the genre as Juvenile Fiction, but I totally disagree. Sure, juveniles could read it, and they might like it, and everything would be ok. But this is kind of a coming of age novel (prominently about being gay), and there is so much delightful dramatic irony! Kids in the junior high age range would totally miss that deliciousness (and they’d miss out on the 1980’s references).
It’s a good little book. The author is really clever, Peter (in his comic innocence) is likable, the story keeps moving with something new every few pages, and the line between fantasy and reality is often transcended, perhaps suggesting that it’s unnecessary for us to try to fit ourselves into other people’s reality.
Find a copy here