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12 Blogs of Christmas: Diversity in YA

It’s time to kick off our 3rd annual 12 Blogs of Christmas.  Here we share with you some of our favorite blogs to discuss MG and YA lit, be inspired by new craft ideas, or just learn more about teen issues and culture.



noun: diversity
1. The state of being diverse; variety
from merriam-webster dictionary


Blog #1


From the Blog’s About Page:
Diversity in YA was founded in 2011 by YA authors Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo as a website and book tour. While the tour is over, we’ve revived the website as a tumblr! We celebrate young adult books about all kinds of diversity, from race to sexual orientation to gender identity and disability. We hope you’ll enjoy celebrating them with us.

Why I Love It:
Technically, this is a blog via Tumblr. But it is chock full of in depth discussions, title recommendations, and useful statistics.  If you care about diversity in YA lit, this is a resource you need to be reading everyday.  If you don’t care about diversity in YA lit, then I hope you are not a ya librarian because all YA librarians need to care about this topic.  We live in a diverse world, our teens deserve – and need – to see themselves authentically reflected in the books that they read.  And though my personal rallying cry is that we need to expand our definition of diversity to include things like class differences, spiritual lives and belief practices, and moving beyond normative gender stereotypes, we definitely need to be thinking about and discussing race and sexuality in our ya lit.  Diversity in YA is a great place to be doing this.

Some of my favorite posts include:
Diversity in ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults
Gay in YA (graphic via Epic Reads)
Link: 5 YA Titles that Feature Characters with Asperger’s or Autism
Beyond Diversity 101: On Bisexual Characters and YA Literature
Diversity in Secrets (guest post by Amy Reed)

Flashback TLT Posts

Diversity Discussions on TLT

Racial Stereotyping in YA Literature
Race Reflections, Take II
Building Bridges to Literacy for African American Male Youth Summit recap, part 1
Friday Reflections: Talking with Hispanic/Latino Teens about YA Lit

Gender Issues on TLT
I’m Just a Girl? Gender issues in YA Lit
Girls Against Girls
Teach Me How to Live: talking with guys about ya lit with Eric Devine
Let’s Hear It for the Boys: Boys and body image
Who Will Save You? Boundaries, Rescue and the Role of Adults in the Lives of Teens
The Curious Case of the Gender Based Assignment

GLBTQ Discussions on TLT
You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Annie on My Mind and Banned Books Week on My Calendar
Queer (a book review)
Top 10: For Annie and Liza (Annie on My Mind)

Take 5: Tumblrs that Rock

I am obsessed with Tumblr.  Blame Robin.  Anyhow, as I see it, Tumblr (outside of Twitter, of course) is so easy to use and I love, love, love the way it handles graphics (which is where its bread and butter is).  So now I am all Tumblr obsessed.  Here are 5 Tumblrs to follow if you are new to the tumble.  If you are not new, share your favorites with me in the comments.  Feed my obsession.

And yes, for the record, every time I am on Tumblr I do in fact sing this song in my head . . .

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwb9-OlQimc]

Diversity in YA

Diversity in YA was originally founded as a blog in 2011 by Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo.  They moved to Tumblr in 2013.  Here, they talk about Diversity in YA, hence the title.  It is a great resource not only highlighting titles, but giving real strong evidence that shows how little diversity there currently is.

Teenager Posts

Teenager Posts takes a standard format – a color block with a simple text statement, similar to Bookfessions – and allows teens to express themselves.  Often sad, sometimes witty, sometimes full of cusswords, this is a way for teens 

YA Book Quotes

Exactly what it sounds like – quotes from YA books. Great for reblogging and sharing.

Fishing Boat Proceeds, aka John Green’s Tumblr

John Green is kind of king of the Internet in Geek World, and Tumblr is no different.  It’s obviously heavy on self-promotion, especially with TFIOS movie being filmed, but he is usually the first to take to the Internet and speak up about things with heartfelt intelligence.

Looking for things to make and do?  DIY Fashion has you covered.

Maureen Johnson Books

If John Green is the King of the Internet, one could argue that Maureen Johnson is the Queen.  She speaks passionately about things.  She rants.  She answers questions.  In a word, she is kind of awesome.

Go Book Yourself

This site is your basic “If You Like . . . Try This . . .” site with some visual finesse.  Take a book – say The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – and it will recommend 4 readlikes.  In this case it recommends Ask the Passengers by A. S. King, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  These are great for sharing, though not always YA.

An Oldie but a Goodie: Bookfessions

More Info: 8 Inspirational Blogs from Huffington Post Teen ; 10 Top Tech related Tumblrs

Book Review: Inheritance by Malinda Lo plus ARC Giveaway

The guard was still blocking the exit when Reese and David emerged from the back office and headed for the door. She was so caught up in thinking over what had just happened and how she and David were going to manage to lie to both the Imria and CASS that she barely noticed that the guard didn’t move as they approached. Then he reached out and grabbed her arm.

“Hey!” she cried. His grip was tight on her, and something cold and dark seeped through is fingers into her body. She froze. He was so strong- exactly like that soldier who had man-handled her at Blue Base right before she’d had the medical exam. 

This man wasn’t looking at her at all. His eyes were focused on the rear of the shop, and Reese heard Lovick call out, “They’re finished. You can let them go.”

The man released her and she fell back, bumping against David. He sensed her sudden disquiet and took her hand. What happened?

The guard opened the door and she plunged out into the cool evening air, her mind whirling as she plowed up the sidewalk, dragging David with her. That guy was like the soldiers at Blue Base.

She sensed that he wasn’t entirely surprised. I knew there was something off about them, he told her.

She barely noticed the chilly mist on the skin of her legs as they walked through Chinatown, hand in hand. She was consumed with the realization that Lovick had Blue Base-mad guards acting on his orders. She and David could try to manipulate Lovick and CASS, but the two of them were thoroughly outgunned. How the hell are we going to pull this off? she wondered.
“We’re here,” David said, pulling her to a halt in front of a restaurant. His face was pale, and he glanced behind her down the street. She didn’t have to turn around to know that he had seen the men in black’s sedan. We’ll figure it out, he told her. One thing at a time.

He opened the door to the restaurant, and she followed him inside. It smelled of chili peppers and garlic, and scrolls of Chinese characters hung on the walls. The hostess asked David something in Chinese, and after he responded, she showed them to a table midway down the rectangular room, dropping off two thick menus.

Reese glanced behind herself at the door. The restaurant was about half full of mostly Asian patrons, and the men in black had not followed them in. “I’ll be right back,” she said, and went to the rear of the restaurant where she saw the sign for the restroom. She had to go down a set of narrow stairs to the basement where she found two toilets. She went into the one marked for women and took off her jacket, hanging it on the half-broken hook screwed into the wall. She unbuttoned her shirt and slid out of it, draping it over her jacket, so that she could remove the wire that was taped onto her skin. It was attached to a slim recording device clipped to the inside of her skirt. She pulled the recorder out and flipped the switch to Off, then wound the wire around the device and tucked it into her jacket’s interior pocket. She put her shirt back on and buttoned it with shaking fingers before taking the cell phone out of her skirt pocket to text Julian: I got it. 

In this sequel to Adaption, Reese and David have been rescued from the hands of the government by the Imria- whose DNA have been bound within them and are causing them to have unique powers. Their identities known to the world by a press conference designed so that their own government cannot take off with them again, now the Imria ship hovers over their neighborhood, to show the world what happened to them during their time in Area 51 and what happened during the June Disaster. Yet everyone around them seems to have ulterior motives for wanting their cooperation: the government is hiding what their true dealings with the Imira were, the Imria have factions within themselves, people in general are both embracing and threatening the new “race” of humans, and a shadowy underground emerges that wants inside information on everyone by threatening Reese and David’s family. Through it all, Reese and David are still struggling with their new powers, who to trust, and their feelings for each other.

Lo delivers a different take on the sci-fi novel, a YA book that really makes you think about politics, identity, sexuality, and discovery of self. The triangle between Reese, David, and Amber is more present than ever, and causes Reese and David to examine what is really important between them. As Reese and David discover that they aren’t quite human but aren’t quite Imrian, they have to navigate the politics of relations between humans and the Imria while protecting themselves from the hatred and hidden agendas of others. Readers looking for a more straightforward science fiction story might be better served elsewhere. Absolutely a worthwhile read, and a thought-provoking one as well, that reflects on current issues. 4 out of 5 stars. For books pairing the sci-fi with issues, pair with books like False Memory by Dan Krokos, The Lunar Series by Marissa Meyer, or Beta by Rachel Cohn.

Enter to win our Inheritance ARC! Share why you loved Inheritance or any other of Malinda Lo’s books (Ash, Huntress, Adaption, or the short story in Diverse Energies ) in the comments along with your twitter handle or an email address and keep your fingers crossed!  Contest ends October 1, 2013. Open to U.S. residents.  Please leave an email or Twitter handle so we can contact you if you win.

We Came, We Saw, We Talked, We Stalked: Christie’s ALA Highlights

We Came
I had a blast at ALA Annual in Chicago. Buses and transportation got a little weird, but I loved the energy with the Blackhawks celebration and the Pride Celebration and everything else going on. So much fun! And add into the mix all the authors and librarians and the craziness that we have anyways, and it’s always a good time!

We Saw
There were some sessions that I missed due to the rooms being overfull past the point of fire codes (YA Dystopian Authors, Cory Doctorow and DRM) which is something that needs worked on. I did run into a lot of my conference family and even people I’ve worked with in the past that I never see except for conferences which is always a wonderful time. I attended a wonderful session on graphic novels entitled Let’s Discuss This: A Roundtable Discussion which featured Gail Simone, John Green (from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Teenboat), Paul Pope, Gregg Hurwitz, and Jeffrey Brown talking about the comic industry.
John Green and Gail Simone
And I was also able to attend the Scholastic Brunch, where I was treated to reader theater and learned about new titles by Gordan Korman and others…
Gordon Korman with his new series The Hypnotists

Kat Falls and her new book Inhuman

Brandon Mull and Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born, a multiplatform series

We Talked
I represented the Rainbow Project (of which I am chair this year) at the SRRT All Committee meeting and on the exhibits floor to help find titles for this year’s list. Karen and I also spoke about Free Comic Book Day on the Graphic Novel Stage.
Free Comic Book Day Panel
We Stalked
And then there were the authors….  I got to talk to Marie Lu (Prodigy/Legend) and SJ Adams (Sparks), Malinda Lo (Ash, Adaptation), and then got mutually stalked by Tim Federle (Better Nate than Never, Tequila Mockingbird). That Guy got to talk with Cory Doctorow (Homeland, Big Brother) and they are sharing emails.
Me and SJ Adams (Adam Selzer)

Me and Marie Lu

Me, That Guy, and his side of the family
Heather, Karen, and me
And I got to meet Heather in person and part of our family came over, so a good time was had by all!  What were your highlights of ALA?

Shadows on the Rainbow: Not including the spectrum in GLBTQ YA

So Karen was emailing me this morning about Malinda Lo (oh, I love her and her tweets and blogs and books) and her blog about David Levithan’s new cover. If you haven’t seen it yet, click here.  And Karen’s all, I didn’t know there was a male privilege effect in GLBTQ books. And I’m like *head smack* it’s EVERYWHERE. Duh.

We like to think that the GLBTQI world would be inclusive of everyone.  In our world in general, and especially in publishing specifically, that’s rarely the case. Those with the bigger names and those whose works will fit broader target audiences and thus make more money will get published, even though they may not have the best quality. There are stories out there that need to be told that aren’t reaching our youth- stories of color, stories of trans, stories of queer. We have imprints that are picking up stories, but new GLBTQ authors are finding massive hurdles in their way, and only a few make it to big imprints. Those that do worry that the next book might be their last.  Authors who have a huge backing like Levithan are rare in the GLBTQ world, and there need to be more.

And the fact that publishers and bookstores and even libraries can just put GAY or GAY AND LESBIAN on the entire section and feel happy that they’ve done their job means that there needs to be more education within the entire system. GAY does not cover everyone within the Rainbow- far from it- and by slapping on labels you’re actually doing a huge disservice to those in and out.

Even the award winners for youth do not cover the spectrum. 

The GLBT-RT roundtable of the American Library Association puts out the Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award (Stonewall Youth Awards) yearly, and has since 2010. 

  • 2013:  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (gay)
  • 2012:  Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (gay)
  • 2011:  Almost Perfect (trans)
  • 2010:  The Vast Fields of Ordinary (gay)

Lambda Literary has been crowning winners for children’s/ young adult category since 1993: winners from 2002-2011:

  • 2011:  Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (gay)
  • 2010:  Wildthorn (lesbian)
  • 2009:  Sprout (gay)
  • 2008:  Out of the Pocket (gay)
  • 2007:  Hero (gay)
  • 2006:  Tie:  Full Spectrum (GLBTQ) & Between Mom and Jo (lesbian)
  • 2005:  Swimming in the Monsoon Sea (gay)
  • 2004:  So Hard to Say (gay)
  • 2003:  Boy Meets Boy (gay)
  • 2002:  Letters in the Attic (lesbian)
  • 2001:  Finding H. F. (lesbian & gay)
  • 2000:  Out of the Ordinary (gay, lesbian, trans)
  • 1999:  Hard Love (lesbian)
  • 1998:  Telling Tales out of School (gay, lesbian, bisexual)
  • 1997:  The House You Pass on the Way (lesbian)
  • 1996:  Good Moon Rising (lesbian)
  • 1995:  From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (lesbian)
  • 1994:  Am I Blue? (gay, lesbian)
  • 1993:  The Cat Came Back (lesbian)

Out of 20 titles, only two deal with transsexual issues, and one is an informative anthology.  Only the two anthologies deal with bisexual issues. The most recent titles (2007-2012), save for Wildthorn, were all written by males.  These are disturbing trends- we always say we need diversity, we need to reflect our teens in what they’re reading because they need to find themselves….  Are they finding themselves in GLBTQI literature for teens? 
Without even addressing the issues of self-censoring or community hurdles of getting books like these onto the shelves, are publishers getting the books out there for booksellers and libraries to purchase?  I don’t think so.

Karen’s note: What I said was, “I had never thought about there being a white, male privilege in GLBTQ lit.”

More on Sex and Sexuality at TLT:

More on Sex and Sexuality on TLT:  

Malinda Lo on Two Boys Kissing (coming in the fall from David Levithan)

I just stumbled across this excellent post from Malinda Lo and wanted to make sure everyone reads it.  The most interesting part to me was in the comments where she discusses how few GLBTQ titles are actually being published.  Read the post here: http://www.malindalo.com/2013/03/on-two-boys-kissing/

Coming in the fall

What do you think of the cover for David Levthan’s new book?  What do you think of Malinda Lo’s post?  Talk with us in the comments.
More on Sex and Sexuality on TLT:  

Why YA? Ash (Malinda Lo) as discussed by Christie Gibrich

Today’s Why YA? post is brought to you by TLT contributor Christie Gibrich, MLS
Why YA? Because the Shoe Fits
Meeting people for the first (or second time), and it is usually pretty predictable. Right after they find out my profession, the second question I’m always asked is, What do you read? (Comes right after It must be nice getting to read all day, huh?) And I admit, I will *try* to read just about anything. I know my library’s collection pretty well, and feel that I need to have a working knowledge of what my patrons want, so I keep up with new releases, even though Westerns, Historical Romances, and bright and chipper teen series can make me grit my teeth.
However, if you come to my house and inspect my bookcases (call first so I can pick up and dust, OK? I can’t seem to find any house elves that want to live in Texas) the shelves that hold my books are mostly fiction and run a little darker – mysteries by JD Robb and Sara Prelutsky, science fiction and fantasy by McCaffrey and Tanya Huff and Mercedes Lackey, books by Laurel K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison mixed in with the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, the earlier works of Stephen King. These are the books that I go back to time and time again, because for me they stand up to multiple reading- they’re a full Sunday supper as opposed to state fair cotton candy. And on at least two large bookcases, you will find a variety of Young Adult books. Why these YA? Because they are just as beautifully written as the fiction I’ve read, and they’ve touched a chord in me.

That’s really what reading is about- finding something within the pages that hits you deep inside, that relates somehow to the reader and makes you think, that transports you to a different place, a different reality than your own. Ash, by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown, September 2009), is one of those books for me. A twisting on the traditional Cinderella tale, Aisling (Ash) is orphaned by the age of 12 and left with a stepmother and two stepsisters, and forced into the life of a servant. The only way she learns to survive is by escaping to the fairy realm, and darkening her heart. However, (SPOILERS SWEETIE), when she finds herself falling in love with the Royal Huntress (OH YES, HUNTRESS), Ash must decide between fairy and reality. It’s a dark tale, not the happy happy that most readers are familiar with, and that makes it all the more powerful in my eyes.

Ash pulls from the darker folklore that a lot of people may not be comfortable with, challenging the perception that fairies are benevolent creatures that will turn pumpkins into carriages for the fun of it and that everything turns out fine if you are pure and good and beautiful. It’s complex and lyrical in the way that Lo builds the worlds that Aisling exists in, crossing back and forth from the reality into fairy and back. I can re-read this book over and over because different passages strike me at different times- Aisling’s interactions with Clara and while Aisling tries to encourage her not to follow her step-mother blinding, Clara rebuffing her with the line “It may not be your dream, Stepsister, but do not scoff at those who do dream of it.” (159-160). The fact that it’s really not until Aisling fully accepts the death of her mother that she can find friendship and then love with Kaisa. But in the end, it’s about accepting love, letting it run its course no matter how it comes, and allowing it to be however it needs to be.
And that’s a message that everyone needs.
Have you read Ash by Malinda Lo? Tell us what you think in the comments.  And you, too, can write your own Why YA? post, find out more here.

Book Review: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

“She couldn’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up. It was all one giant blank spot, and when she tried to think about it, pain pierced her head.” – from the back cover of Adaptation.

As Reese and David sit with their teacher in an airport waiting to return home from a school function, a plane crashes.  It turns out it wasn’t one plane, but many.  With all flights grounded they rent a car and try to make their way home through the chaos; cars flood the highways and the government seems to be directing traffic. In the midst of all this their teacher is shot and a gas station explodes. Soon Reese and David are in a massive car accident.

Days later they wake up in a secret government hospital and return home, having signed a non disclosure agreement, feeling a bit off.  Slowly the pieces come into place and they begin to learn that their time spent in the hospital has changed them in ways they could never imagine; They are now at great risk.

I am a huge fan of the X-files and was looking forward to reading this book, which has many cool X-files like elements in it.  There are government conspiracies, flashbacks bleeding into reality, and the so-called “men in black.”  The reveal of what, exactly, happened to Reese and David is not really a surprise, the elements leading up to it definitely sign post that this is the direction they are heading.

But if Adaptation is an episode of the X-files, it suddenly changes channels in the middle of the book and you find yourself watching an under developed after school special; suddenly, Reese meets a girl, Amber Gray, on the street and the attraction between the two seems to be instantaneous.  On their second or third meeting they are kissing.  At the beginning of our book Reese is beating herself up because she messed up the chance to kiss David and suddenly, she is making out with a girl she has barely met and knows nothing about.  The introduction of this character is so abrupt, it stops the momentum of the story and shifts gear.  A few chapters later there are some revelations that become relevant to our story and Amber is better integrated into the book, but it’s like the author changes channels once again and the two stories are now somehow meshed together on a new channel: the science fiction Lifetime movie network channel.

So here’s how it plays out: you’re moving along the alien conspiracy highway in this compelling science fiction adventure then – bam – you hit a brick wall of oddly developed and too quickly to be believed romance that totally stops you in your tracks, and then you slowly begin to pick up speed again on the alien super highway.  The first and the last parts work but the middle not so much, which is unfortunate because I think the teen science fiction genre is desperately in need of some more alien conspiracies to be honest. 

I think that Lo does an admirable job in many ways with the alien/government conspiracy elements of this story.  She hits all the right notes and mentions a lot of the classic tales (hello Roswell!), but there are some definite snags along the way.  And I give Lo credit for having a single mom who responds well when her daughter, Reese, comes to her with the information about what happened and when she catches her making out with a girl in her bedroom.  It was nice to see a teen have a healthy relationship with a parent and have good communication and support between the two.

In the end, I give Adaptation 3 stars out of 5.  I truly enjoyed the science fiction elements of this story, but feel that the relationship between Reese and Amber didn’t work the way the story needed it to and because the reveal of what exactly had happened to Reese and David was pretty clear very early on in the story.  When looking for science fiction meets romance, I think Roswell High by Melinda Metz still gets it right.

Adaptation by Malinda Lo releases in September of 2012 and is published by Little, Brown.