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What’s New in LGBTQIA+ YA March 2017

It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters.  The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents), as well as anthologies that include LGBTQIA+ stories. Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers March 2017 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (January and February 2017 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers/Goodreads. I also have a 2017 master list that I’m always working on. I’m happy to send you the list if you’re interested. Tweet at me or email me to request the list. I’m amanda DOT macgregor AT gmail DOT com.

 

March 2017

 

inexplicableThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (ISBN-13: 9780544586505 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

 

 

 

 

drivenDriven by MB Mulhall (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-278-0 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 03/07/2017)

As an eighteen-year-old ex-con living on the streets, Oliver doesn’t have it easy. Don’t show weakness and survive to repent are the daily mottoes he lives by.

A chance encounter with a clumsy older lady leads him to temporary room and board in exchange for being the errand boy for spinster twins in a fairy-tale home—much to the dismay of their concerned neighbor Simon.

Inside, Oliver fights a battle between staying and going. The guilt of a horrible accident eats away at him, keeping him from getting too close to anyone, even when sparks start to ignite a heart he long thought broken.

Will Oliver get over the past and allow himself a chance at a happiness, love, and better life? Or will the blackness in his soul take over and demand he pay the ultimate price for his crimes?

 

 

other f wordThe Other F-Word by Natasha Friend (ISBN-13: 9780374302344 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Milo has two great moms, but he’s never known what it’s like to have a dad. When Milo’s doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo’s extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he’s always wondered about.

Hollis’s mom Leigh hasn’t been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy—giddy, even—by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis’s half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.

 

 

piperPiper Perish by Kayla Cagan (ISBN-13: 9781452155838 Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and get to New York City, the better. Art school has been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power when it means giving up so much? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this dynamic, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

 

 

pants projectThe Pants Project by Cat Clarke (ISBN-13: 9781492638094 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 03/07/2017)

“My name is Liv (Not Olivia)… I’m not technically a girl.

I’m Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool because I probably won’t get to save the world one day.”

Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy, but with his new school’s terrible dress code, he can’t even wear pants. Only skirts.

Operation: Pants Project begins! The only way for Liv to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn’t just a mission to change the policy—it’s a mission to change his life. And that’s a pretty big deal.

 

 

seven days of youSeven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse (ISBN-13: 9780316391115 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication date: 03/07/2017)

Anna and the French Kiss meets Before Sunrise in this smart and swoony debut.

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven Days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days….Until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

 

 

queens of geekQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde (ISBN-13: 9781250111395 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 03/14/2017)

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek, an empowering young adult novel by Jen Wilde, is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

 

 

born bothBorn Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria (ISBN-13: 9780316347846 Publisher: Hachette Books Publication date: 03/14/2017)

A candid, provocative, and eye-opening memoir of gender identity, self-acceptance, and love from one of the world’s foremost intersex activists.

My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing–but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments meant to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it–and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.

 

 

star-crossedStar-Crossed by Barbara Dee (ISBN-13: 9781481478489 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 03/14/2017)

Mattie is chosen to play Romeo opposite her crush in the eighth grade production of Shakespeare’s most beloved play in this Romeo and Juliet inspired novel from the author of Truth or Dare.

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

 

 

shadow runShadow Run by Michael Miller, AdriAnne Strickland (ISBN-13: 9780399552533 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 03/21/2017)

Firefly meets Dune in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

 

all you needAll You Need Is Love by Russell J. Sanders (ISBN-13: 978-1-63533-321-3 Publisher: Harmony Ink Publication date: 03/21/2017)

It is 1969 when Dewey Snodgress, high school theater star, meets irrepressible hippie Jeep Brickthorn, who quickly inserts himself into Dewey’s life—and eventually into his heart. Meanwhile, Dewey prepares to appear in a production across town, a play about protestors of the Vietnam War, where he befriends the wild and wonderful Lucretia “LuLu” Belton, who is also determined to follow her dreams and become an actress—whether her parents approve or not.

The show has a profound effect, especially on Dewey’s father, who reconsiders his approval of the war after his son’s performance. But Dewey knows his dad won’t be so accepting if he reveals the love he’s developing for Jeep, so he fights to push his feelings away and keep the peace in his family.

Still, Dewey can’t ignore the ripples moving through society—from the impending Woodstock Festival to the Stonewall Riots—and he begins to see that the road to happiness and acceptance for him and Jeep might lead them away from conservative Fort Worth, Texas—and Dewey’s  dad.

 

 

honestly ben2Honestly Ben (Openly Straight #2) by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9780545858267 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except…

There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith, and John Green, Honestly Ben is a smart, laugh-out-loud novel that will speak to anyone who’s struggled to be “honestly ____________” in some part of their lives.

 

 

lotterysThe Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue (ISBN-13: 9780545925815 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed “good girl” of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant “Grumps,” who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn’t been part of any of their lives.

Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps’s clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household… He’s worse than just tough to get along with — Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?

 

 

radio silenceRadio Silence by Alice Oseman (ISBN-13: 9780062335715 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 03/28/2017)

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

 

 

things-i-shouldThings I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik (ISBN-13: 9780544829695 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publication date: 03/28/2017)

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own so Chloe and David have to tag along.  Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

#SJYALit Reading Lists: Disability in YA Lit, a guest post by Natalie Korsavidis

sjyalitAs part of our 2017 Social Justice in Young Adult Literature project, we will be posting reading lists on various social justice-related subjects. Guest blogger Natalie Korsavidis pulled together this one on disabilities. We will mainly be focusing on books published after 2000. We encourage you to add any other titles you can think of in the comments. Interested in generating a list for us? Let us know! I’m @CiteSomething on Twitter. See more about the #SJYALit project here.

 

Disabilities Fiction

Annotations for titles from alisweb.org, publisher descriptions, and NoveList. Shout-out to Disability in Kidlit, where additional research was done. 

 

dark daysBerk Josh. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
When Will Halpin transfers from his all-deaf school into a mainstream Pennsylvania high school, he faces discrimination and bullying, but still manages to solve a mystery surrounding the death of a popular football player in his class.

 

 

shark girlBingham, Kelly. Shark Girl. Candlewick Press, 2007.
After a shark attack causes the amputation of her right arm, fifteen-year-old Jane, an aspiring artist, struggles to come to terms with her loss and the changes it imposes on her day-to-day life and her plans for the future.

 

 

 

iron trialBlack, Holly. The Iron Trial. Scholastic, 2014.
All his life Callum Hunt has been warned by his father that practicing magic is a guaranteed death sentence. When Call is summoned to attend the entrance exams for The Magisterium, he promises his father he will deliberately fail the test to avoid the dangerous lure of magic school. Unfortunately, magic is in Call’s blood, and though his permanent limp and sarcastic attitude do not appear to serve him well during testing, he is selected with two other “Iron Years” to be a pupil of the greatest mage of all, Master Rufus.

 

 

read my lipsBrown, Teri. Read My Lips. Simon Pulse, 2008.
Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well-even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

 

 

 

blindsidedCummings, Priscilla. Blindsided. Dutton Children’s Books, 2010.
After years of failing eyesight, fourteen-year-old Natalie reluctantly enters a school for the blind, where in spite of her initial resistance she learns the skills that will help her survive in the sighted world.

 

 

 

the one thingCurtis, Marci Lynn. The One Thing. Hyperion, 2015.
After losing her sight–and the future she dreamed of–seventeen-year-old Maggie meets the one person with the ability to help her see all the possibilities life still holds.

 

 

 

blindDeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. Viking, 2014.
After a horrific accident leaves her blind, fifteen-year-old Emma, one of seven children, eagerly starts high school as a sophomore, and finds that nearly everything has changed–sometimes for the better.

 

 

 

gameworldFarley, Christopher John. Game World. Akashic Books, 2013.
A virtual game world called Xamaica becomes real for three Jamaican sixth graders, who embark upon a quest through a fantastical landscape laden with Caribbean mythology.

 

 

 

pinnedFlake, Sharon. Pinned. Scholastic, 2012.
Adonis is smart, intellectually gifted and born without legs; Autumn is strong, a great wrestler, and barely able to read in ninth grade–but Autumn is attracted to Adonis and determined to make him a part of her life whatever he or her best friend thinks.

 

 

 

dangerousHale, Shannon. Dangerous. Bloomsbury, 2014.
When aspiring astronaut Maisie Danger Brown, who was born without a right hand, and the other space camp students get the opportunity to do something amazing in space, Maisie must prove how dangerous she can be and how far she is willing to go to protect everything she has ever loved.

 

 

push girlHill, Chelsie. Push Girl. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2014.
Kara, a high school junior, is popular with a great group of friends, an amazing boyfriend, and expectations of being Homecoming Queen until she leaves a party angry and wakes up in a hospital bed, paralized from the waist down, but as she is forced to adjust to her new physical reality, she also learns that her friends are not who they seemed to be.

 

 

five flavorsJohn, Antony. Five Flavors of Dumb. Dial Books, 2010.
Eighteen-year-old Piper becomes the manager for her classmates’ popular rock band, called Dumb, giving her the chance to prove her capabilities to her parents and others, if only she can get the band members to get along.

 

 

 

accidentsJohnson, Harriet. Accidents of Nature. Holt, 2006.
Having always prided herself on blending in with “normal” people despite her cerebral palsy, seventeen-year-old Jean begins to question her role in the world while attending a summer camp for children with disabilities.

 

 

 

wiredmanKaufman, Sashi. Wired Man and Other Freaks of Nature. Lerner Publishing Group, 2016.
Ben has to wear hearing aids, but being inseparable from the super-popular Tyler allows him to think of himself as normal. But Tyler blows him off senior year and Ben needs to rethink who he is–and who Tyler is.

 

 

 

RUNKeplinger, Kody. Run. Scholastic Press, 2016.
Bo Dickinson is a seventeen-year-old girl from a bad family, but she is also over-protected, legally blind, Agnes Atwood’s best friend–so when Bo calls in the middle of the night, desperate to get out of town, Agnes helps her to steal the Atwoods’ car and the two girls go on the run, even though Agnes is not sure exactly what they are running from.

 

 

stoner andKoertge, Ron. Stoner and Spaz. Candlewick Press, 2002.
A troubled youth with cerebral palsy struggles toward self-acceptance with the help of a drug-addicted young woman.

 

 

 

not if iLindstrom, Eric. Not if I See You First. Poppy, Little Brown, and Company, 2015.
Blind sixteen-year-old Parker Grant navigates friendships and romantic relationships, including a run-in with a boy who previously broke her heart, while coping with her father’s recent death.

 

 

 

silenceLytton, Deborah Lynn. Silence. Shadow Mountain, 20015.
After an accident robs Stella of her hearing and her dream of going to Broadway, she meets Hayden, a boy who stutters, and comes to learn what it truly means to connect and communicate in a world filled with silence.

 

 

the callO’Guilin, Peadar. The Call. Scholastic, 2016.
For the last twenty-five years every teenager in Ireland has been subject to “the call” which takes them away to the land of the Sídhe, where they are hunted for twenty four hours. Handicapped by her twisted legs, Nessa Doherty knows that very few return alive, but she is determined to be one of them.

 

 

andromedaPortman, Frank. Andromeda Klein. Delacorte Press, 2009,
High school sophomore Andromeda, an outcast because she studies the occult and has a hearing impairment and other disabilities, overcomes grief over terrible losses by enlisting others’ help in her plan to save library books–and finds a kindred spirit along the way.

 

 

tone deafRivers, Olivia. Tone Deaf. Perseus Distribution Services, 2016.
Ali Collins was a child piano prodigy until a brain tumor caused her to lose her hearing, and now, after meeting Jace, the lead singer of Tone Deaf, her musical and romantic possiblities increase.

 

 

 

hurt goRorby, Ginny. Hurt Go Happy. Tom Doherty Associates, 2006.
When thirteen-year-old Joey Willis, deaf since the age of six, meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his chimpanzee Sukari, who use sign language, her world blooms with possibilities but that of the chimp begins to narrow.

 

 

 

she is notSedgwick, Marcus. She is Not Invisible. Square Fish, 2014.
A London teenager who is blind and her younger brother travel to New York to find their missing father, using clues from his notebook.

 

 

 

 

love-and-firstSundquist, Josh. Love and First Sight. Little, Brown and Company, 2017.
Sixteen-year-old blind teen Will Porter undergoes an experimental surgery that enables him to see for the first time, all while navigating a new school, new friends, and a crush.

 

 

 

stuck inTrueman, Terry. Stuck in Neutral. Harper Tempest, 2001.
Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cannot function, relates his perceptions of his life, his family, and his condition, especially as he believes his father is planning to kill him.

 

 

 

running dreamVan Draanen, Wendelin. The Running Dream. Knopf, 2011.
When a school bus accident leaves sixteen-year-old Jessica an amputee, she returns to school with a prosthetic limb and her track team finds a wonderful way to help rekindle her dream of running again.

 

 

 

a time toVenkatraman, Padma. A Time to Dance. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014.
In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.

 

 

 

 

reachingZimmer, Tracie Vaughn. Reaching for the Sun. Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2007.
Josie, who lives with her mother and grandmother and has cerebral palsy, befriends a boy who moves into one of the rich houses behind her old farmhouse.

 

 

 

Meet Natalie Korsavidis

Natalie Korsavidis is the Head of Local History/Reader’s Advisory Librarian at the Farmingdale Public Library. She is also in charge of Collection Development for Young adult fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and manga.

Middle School Monday – Middle School goes through Grade 8

MSM

Yes, I realize most of you know this, but how do you consider it when developing your collection?

fiercereadslogoI was recently invited to interview 4 of the Fierce Reads authors during one of their tour stops in my area (it’s not until next week – I’m so excited!) In preparation, their publicist sent me advanced copies of the titles they’ll be promoting on tour, and I’ve been working my way through them. One of the authors, Leigh Bardugo, is very familiar to me, and I’m really excited to meet her. I already have her Grisha Trilogy in my middle school collection. Another, Josephine Angelini, was an unknown quantity, but I just finished her Trial by Fire, and really enjoyed it. So my first consideration is, would this be good to add to my collection?

My initial instinct is yes, I have students who would really enjoy this title. I think it would appeal to my fans of Cassandra Clare’s novels as well as some of my Divergent and Hunger Games readers. My second instinct is to check the reviews and see where other professionals have gauged its interest level. Most are 14 and up, or 8th grade and up, one is 12 and up. Good. I can add it to my collection. But I know that’s not always going to be the initial reaction amongst my middle school librarian peers.

Self-censorship, or collection development censorship, is a real issue in the middle school library. While I believe it’s important to know your community and your patrons, I think there is a danger in going too far in limiting what is purchased for your middle school collection. I’m fortunate in that the community of readers I serve is extremely diverse. My readers run the full spectrum from very sheltered 11 year olds to extremely worldly 14 year olds, with everything in between. Occasionally that can be a struggle due to budget constraints, but in general it has been a great advantage.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that children and teens will find the books they are ready to read. The main problem, I think, is when the adults in their lives are not ready for them to be ready. This can sometimes include their librarians. But, if you fill your collection with titles that are only recommended for 6th through 8th grades, you are limiting your students access and doing them a great disservice. I include titles with interest recommendations of 3rd through 6th grade in our collection, why would I not add titles recommended for 8th grade and up? 6th grade and 8th grade are both a part of the middle school experience – and it’s important to remember it.

Book review: Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens

Get ready for a crash course in LGBTQ YA books! Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens: Coming Out, Being Out, and the Search for Community by Michael Cart and Christine A. Jenkins packs a lot of information in this slight book (164 pages). Their previous book together, The Heart has its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queen Content 1960-2004 (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2006) focused on the most important books on the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with annotations of titles, and looked at novels published in between 2000 and 2004, too. The focus here is primarily books from the 90s and on.

 

They begin with a look at the history of LGBTQ books, noting an increase in the inclusion of bisexual and transgender characters, as well as more diversity in characters and their stories. They also discuss where we need to go with these books, suggesting we need more books with sexual identity as a given and not the focus of the story, more middle grade LGBTQ titles, and more “with characters of color and characters from other cultures, ethnicities, religions, abilities/disabilities, and other forms of diversity.” They would like to see more same-sex parents and more bisexual characters. They make interesting observations, like 1997’s “Hello,” I Lied by M.E. Kerr was the first YA book to feature a self-identified bisexual character. “It wasn’t until 2011 that the next YA novel with a bisexual character appeared in Alex Sanchez’s Boyfriends with Girlfriends.” (But–is that right? Isn’t Jason from the Rainbow Boys series bi? And Nic from Empress of the World?) They bury one of the most interesting details in a footnote: “The first LGBTQ character of color in a YA novel appeared in 1976, with Rosa Guy’s Ruby; the second appeared 15 years later in Jacqueline Woodson’s 1991 novel The Dear One.”

 

This dense introduction helps provide a context for the annotations that follow. The authors focus on 195 fiction titles, rounding out the remaining 55 entries with nonfiction, graphic novels, and professional resources. They also generate fiction codes for each title: HV for Homosexual Visibility (or coming out stories); GA for Gay Assimilation (stories about people who just happen to be gay); and QC for Queer Consciousness (stories in context of LGBTQ people and their allies). I  don’t think the codes are necessary–many books include all of these elements, and I also don’t like the codes, period. They sound clunky and awkward.

 

The titles included are predominately from the past 20 years, though some older novels, like Dance on my Grave by Aidan Chambers (1982), Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982), and Night Kites by M.E. Kerr (1986) are included, too. The reviews often sound stiff and use the same language over and over. And speaking of language, I don’t love some things that they say, like “the cloudy issue of bisexuality” or things like “there is some explicit talk of sex…but happily, none of it is gratuitous.” Or how about “the dialogue has a realistic lilt that is, unfortunately, rare in books for teens.” All of these examples feel judgmental and negative in ways I don’t appreciate.

 

I have two questions about this book: Who is the audience and what is this book’s purpose? Published by ALA, it would seem maybe the audience is librarians and the purpose is collection development and readers’ advisory. With a heavy focus on “older” books–pre-2000–many of the titles already look and sound dated. If this is a history resource, it’s useful. If this is used as a textbook, it’s useful. I’d like to think that this is a book that would be grabbed off a shelf by actual teenagers looking to read every LGBTQ book they can find. The annotations will help them with that, but the stilted and often scholarly tone sometimes manages to make even the most interesting books sound boring. I also wanted something more in the back matter than just an index. A quick reference list of the books they mention that are middle grade, or feature transgender characters, or non-white characters would be so useful.

 

Overall, despite some issues with its tone and usability, I definitely think this book should be in all library collections. It provides a lot of information about a large number of titles in a quick and (mostly) accessible format. This would be an excellent resource for any class on contemporary YA, too.

 

ISBN-13: 9781937589561

Publisher: Huron Street Press

Publication date: 3/2/2015