July 15, 2016
One of the things we notice when displaying LGBTQ children's and young adult books is the near absence of biographies of out LGBTQ individuals. The erasure of the history and lives of the LGBTQ community reveals an indifference to these experiences and the stigma of visibility.
Like the picture book I am Jazz, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teenager by Jazz Jennings is groundbreaking, being one of the few nonfiction books written for young people about being transgender.
Jennings has known she was transgender as long as she can remember. She officially lived as a girl starting at six years old and is fortunate to have a supportive family. She describes her experience with teenage depression and antidepressants, but the book is mostly very uplifting and accessible, from the joyful front and back cover images to Jennings' vivacious personality and the abundance of photos in the book.
The parentheses in the book's title suggest that Jennings is a regular teen, that being trans doesn't make her life unrelatable to cisgender teens. However, she clearly has pride in her identity; at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference she said that she'd rather be trans than a cisgender girl. The fortitude of the Jennings family is impressive. They navigated hostile and ignorant schools and sports teams and media attention, all the while creating the scaffolding for Jazz to safely be herself.
Being Jazz is an inspirational memoir that any teen can learn from and that transgender teens and families will cherish.
The back matter includes an extensive Q & A with the members of her family and LGBTQ resources for youth and families.
July 01, 2016
If I Was Your Girl
If I Was Your Girl by first time author Meredith Russo is a book written by a transwoman about a transgirl and featuring a transgender cover model. For such a groundbreaking YA book, the story is pretty rote. The background and the content of the book make it capital-I Important; however, the story is a conventionally told fish out of water romance. Happily, Russo educates her reader on trans etiquette without being too awkwardly didactic.
Trans issues also bring up feminist issues. As it is with cis women, safety is an important issue for transpeople. As Russo says, "Being a girl in this world means being afraid. That fearíll keep you safe. Itíll keep you alive."
Amanda Hardy has moved in with her dad to Lambertville, Tennesse, where she's never visited before, to escape the dangers of her life in Georgia. In her transition from male to female, she suffered an assault and now that she is living as a girl, she moves away from her mom, seeking safety and anonymity.
Amanda's anxiety is palpable and real, but as a character she's a little too good to be true. She's beautiful and passes easily as a girl. She is deferential and sweet and gets along well with her classmates.
Russo explains this in a note from the author. She wanted the book to be as palatable and relatable to as many readers as possible. "I have, in some ways, cleaved to stereotypes and even bent rules to make Amanda's trans-ness as unchallenging to normative assumptions as possible."
I was disappointed by some things that happen in the story, though relieved by other revelations. Without giving away too much, girls get an opportunity to be heroic. If I Was Your Girl is well worth reading and is another important accomplishment in the creation of a well rounded canon of LGBTQI teen literature.
June 27, 2016
Say Hello to Your Friends
For anyone who's ever been mystified by the obsessiveness of series book fandom, this article explains the enduring hold that the eternally 12-and 13-year old ( core five, at least) Baby-Sitter's Club members have over their readers.
"For many girls coming of age in the '80s and '90s, The Baby-Sitters Club, the best-selling middle-grade series, was a PG precursor to Sex and the City: a story of female friendship in all its complexity."
Girls and boys are now big fans of Raina Telgemeier's graphic novel renderings of Ann M. Martin's original series.
The characters are distinct from one another but are more than stereotypes. Their appeal is that they're simultaneously aspirational and relatable.
June 01, 2016
Sing a rainbow in June for LGBT Pride month!
In addition to the Obama administration's declaration protecting transgender students' access to the restroom of their gender identity, the LGBT movement will be recognized with its first national monument, in the Stonewall Inn.
Here is an updated bibliography of some new and classic books for tweens and teens that we have in our library collection. Adults may enjoy them, too!
LGBT BOOKS for Tweens & Teens
Bausum, Ann -- Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights
Bray, Libba -- Beauty Queens
Cameron, Peter -- Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
Cameron, Janet E. -- Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World
Chbosky, Stephen -- The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Danforth, Emily M. --†The Miseducation Of Cameron Post
Dole, Mayra -- Down to the Bone
Farizan, Sara --†Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Federle, Tim -- Better Nate than Ever (Tween); The Great American Whatever
Franklin, Emily and Brendan Halpin - Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom
Garden, Nancy -- Annie On My Mind
Gephart, Donna -- Lily and Dunkin (Tween)
Green, John and David Levithan -- Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Gregorio, I.W. -- None of the Above
Hill, Katie Rain with Ariel Schrag -- Rethinking Normal: a Memoir in Transition
Horner, Emily -- A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
Howe, James -- Totally Joe (Tween)
Katcher, Brian -- Almost Perfect
Kuklin, Susan -- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
LaCour. Nina -- Everything Leads To You
Levithan, David -- Two Boys Kissing; Another Day
Lo, Malinda -- Adaptation
Moskowitz, Hannah -- Not Otherwise Specified
Myracle, Lauren -- Shine
Nelson, Jandy -- Iíll Give You the Sun
Peters, Julie Anne -- Luna
Polonsky, Ami -- Gracefully Grayson
Prince, Liz -- Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Self, Jeffrey -- Drag Teen
Setterington, Ken -- Branded by the Pink Triangle
Woodson, Jacqueline -- The House You Pass On the Way
May 25, 2016
this is where it ends
I'm not sure what we should expect from a book about a school shooting but I was floored by how upsetting Dutch author Marieke Nijkamp's this is where it ends is. The story, set in small town Alabama, is told in four students' voices and features a lot of flashbacks and real-time tweets. These devices do not help to flesh out characters, nor differentiate them from one another. I found myself reading the novel's beginning with impatience, wanting to get to the inevitable devastation.
The story is tense--the body count adds up while we beg for it to end-- but the pacing is uneven. The 54 minutes of the shooting drags at times. The choices of the students are frustrating and the response from law enforcement seems sluggish.
As in other disaster or tragedy stories, the motivating plot dominates the characterization. This is where it ends is hard to put down, but in a way that feels voyeuristic; I felt a little guilty about being sucked in to the drama. Each of Tyler's shots is such a senseless waste of life. And yet it was hard for me to really root for anyone in particular.
If this is a topic that interests you, look into Hate List by Jennifer Brown and I Crawl Through It by A.S. King, which also address school violence.