Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

(image via goodreads.com)

Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Print.

  •       Finalist, Lambda Literary Awards, 2008
  •       NYPL Books for the Teen Age list, 2008
  •       Nominated: ALA Stonewall Awards, 2008
  •       Advocate Top Picks for Trans YA Fiction
  •       ALA Rainbow List, 2008
  •        Nominated: Cybils, 2007


Grady, a high school junior, begins to live his life openly as a transgender boy, and deals with the response of his friends, family, and community.

What does it mean to be a transgender teen? To go through puberty and feel like your body is changing, but not in the way you had hoped? To have to explain to everyone else what it means to be transgender when you are figuring it out yourself?

Grady has cut his hair, has a wardrobe of boy's clothes from the thrift store, and has been binding his chest with Ace bandages. Now he's ready to take the next step - asking his friends, family, and school to stop thinking of him as Angela and start calling him Grady. While his dad has no issue with the change, not everyone takes the news as well. His principal thinks it's a phase and won't change his records, his mom is avoiding him, and his best friend and her new mean girl clique are openly calling him a pervert and trying to make his life hell. 

Despite the obstacles, Grady is feeling good about his decision to be himself. What does the future hold for Grady?

*Be sure to check out the back of the book for transgender resources.

(video by pritchwitt at youtube.com)

Teen Perspective
“[It’s my favorite book] because I don't think there are enough books about transgendered people in circulation.” – Liam, 17.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Misfits by James Howe

(image via goodreads.com)

Howe, James. The Misfits. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Print.

  •          ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults
Four outcast friends run for student council as the No Name Party as a protest against bullying in school.

Loser. Fatty. Dweeb. Geek. Fag. What names have you been called?

Middle school is tough, especially when you aren’t popular. Bobby Goodspeed lives in a trailer with his dad, and even though he is only 12, works as a tie salesman at the local department store to make ends meet. Addie, Joe, and Skeezie have been his best friends as long as he can remember. Even though there are only four of them, they call themselves the Gang of Five – it sounds cooler. They are used to being outcasts, but when student council elections come around, Addie decides that it’s time for a change. In order to start a third party, they have to prove that they are representing a group of students that isn’t covered by Democrats or Republicans. Bobby thinks of the names he gets called every day for being fat – Lardo, Fatass, Dough Boy. The others quickly join in. Joe’s been called Faggot, Sissy,Twinkle Toes, Fairy; Skeezie gets Retard and Slimeball; Addie is Beanpole, Know-it-all, Big Mouth. Combined with the usual Loser, Geek, Dweeb, and Nerd, they fill a page in no time. This is their angle. They will be the No Name Party. Will the rest of the school stand behind their push to eliminate name calling and bullying?

“Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will break our spirit.” (142)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Teen Perspectives on LGBTQ Lit

(image via cynr)

“I read queer lit because like all art, literature is a reflection of the consciousness of a culture. I enjoy queer art (including literature) because I can relate to it. Also, when I was younger and just coming out, it was comforting to see the LGBT community reflected in books. I knew that I wasn't alone.” – Kai, 17.

“What I like about LGBTQ books is that I can relate to how the main character is feeling.” – Maggie, 13.

“Many of them are homonormative-- portraying upper-middle class white characters (usually male). As a queer person of color, I don't often find much to relate to in YA LGBT lit as it currently exists. Also, many of the books in the genre are about coming out. Because most of the books are centered around homonormative characters, there usually isn't much diversity in the coming out story. The books become predictable. At present, I'm more interested in books that integrate LGBTQ characters without focusing solely on that particular aspect of the character's identity ("tokenizing," if you will). Most LGBTQ YA fiction does not take on this pursuit. Or if a book does, the LGBT characters are stereotypes, "sassy gay friend," or the "butch lesbian bro."” – Gabrielle, 18.

Gabrielle raises some good points! What are your criticisms of the LGBTQ genre? What's your perspective?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

(image via goodreads.com)

Garden, Nancy. Annie on My Mind. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982. Print.

  •         1982 Booklist Reviewers' choice
  •      1982 ALA Best Books
  •         Best Books of the 1980s
  •         ALA Best Books for YAs for past 25 Years, 1994
  •         One of the Best of the Best Books for YAs of the last 4 decades of the 20th Century, ALA, 2000
  •         Won Mock Printz Award for 1982 in contest held at ALA Midwinter in 2002

Two high school girls in New York City, Annie Kenyon and Liza Winthrop, find that their friendship is blossoming into a new, sweet love.

Liza Winthrop found Annie Kenyon in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, singing a song to herself. They find themselves in a spirited jousting battle, dueling their way through the knights in the Hall of Arms and Armor. After that, they are inseparable friends. Soon they realize their friendship has become something more.

“Annie turned around and looked at me and the sadness in her eyes made me want to put my arms around her. “I’ll go, Liza,” she said, standing up. “I – I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t think you want this, so I have hurt you and, oh, God, Liza,” she said, touching my face, “I don’t want to, I – like you so much. I told you, you make me feel – real, more real than I’ve ever though I could fee, more alive, you – you’re better than a hundred Californias, but it’s not only that, it’s…”
“Better than all those white birds?” I said around the ache that was in my throat again. “Because you’re better than anything or anyone for me, too, Annie, better than – oh, I don’t know better than what – better than everything – but that’s not what I want to be saying – you – you’re – Annie, I think I love you.”
I heard myself say it as if I were someone else, but the moment the words were out, I knew more than I’d ever known anything that they were true.” (94)

As their relationship blossoms and their love grows, Annie and Liza deal with becoming intimate, whether or not to come out to their families, and their plans for college and beyond. 

Teen Perspective
“[It’s a]well written, sweet love story about realizing who you are.” – Melissa, 17.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Deliver Us From Evie by M.E. Kerr

(image via goodreads.com)

Kerr, M.E. Deliver Us From Evie. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. Print.

  •        National Council of Teachers of English Best Young Adult Novels of the '90s pick
  •       Best Book Honor award, Michigan Library Association, 1994
  •        Horn Book Fanfare Honor book, 1995
Set in 1990s small town Missouri, Deliver Us From Evie tells the story of Evie Burrman and her relationship with the daughter of the most prominent man in town, through the eyes of her younger brother, Parr.

Do you ever feel trapped? Like your responsibilities are holding you in a place you won’t ever be able to leave? Evie Burrman works on her family farm in Duffton, Missouri. She smokes like a chimney and can fix anything. She and her younger brother Parr know that at least one of them will have to stick around after graduation to run the farm. One day, Parr checks the mail to find a postcard to Evie from Patty Duff (daughter of the town-founding Duff family) that says “Here for the weekend with Margaret Leighton.…Wish you were her.” Parr wants his sister to be happy, and doesn’t really mind that she’s gay, but if she leaves, he’s trapped. When news of Evie and Patty’s relationship gets out (news travels fast in a small town), Patty’s father does everything he can with his wealth and power to keep the two of them apart. Will Evie (and Parr) make it off the farm and out of Duffton? Can Evie and Patty stay together despite Mr. Duff’s actions?