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

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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

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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?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

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Peters, Julie Anne. Luna. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004. Print.

  •          2004 National Book Award Finalist in Young People’s Literature
  •          2005 Stonewall Honor Book, awarded by the GLBTQ Round Table of the American Library Association
  •          An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults 2005
  •          2005 Colorado Book Award for Young Adult Literature
  •          2005 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
  •          2004 Borders Original Voices Award Finalist
  •          Chicago Public Library Best of the Best 2004, Books for Great Teens
  •          Michigan Library Association 2005 Thumbs Up! Award Nominee
  •          Rhode Island Teen Book Award 2006 Nominee
  •          Missouri Gateway Book Award 2006 Nominee
  •          Vermont Green Mountain Book Award 2006 Nominee
  •          New York Public Library Books for the Teen-Age List 2005
  •          2004 Book Sense Summer Reading List for Teens
  •          An ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

A teenage girl helps keep her older brother’s secret – that she is a transgender girl and wants to live her life as the woman she knows herself to be.

Regan just wants a normal life, with a mom who stays home to be a mom, a dad that provides for the family, and a big brother that looks out for her, but that’s not what she gets. Her mom is busy with her new business, popping pills to stay awake or go to sleep. Her dad got laid off from his job and had to take part time work at Home Depot, and can’t deal with not being the breadwinner. He wants his wife and daughter at home cooking and cleaning, and his son playing sports. Meanwhile, her brother Liam regularly wakes Regan up in the middle of the night so that he can put on wigs and makeup and dresses.

That’s when he’s happiest: when he can be Luna, a true expression of the woman she knows she is inside. Regan doesn’t really understand what it means for Liam to be transgender. She knows her brother has always thought of himself as a girl, and Regan wants to support her. Regan is the only one who knows Luna, but that is about to change. Going out shopping, telling the parents, living her truth – nothing is easy when Liam becomes Luna.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feed by M.T. Anderson

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Anderson, M.T. Feed. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2002. Print.

  •          National Book Award Finalist
  •          Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner
  •          New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year
  •          Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards – Honor Book
  •          Chicago Public Library Best Books for Children and Teens
  •          ALA (American Library Association) Best Books for Young Adults
  •          Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books of the Year
  •          Junior Library Guild Selection
  •          Volunteer State Book Award Master List (Tennessee)
  •          Riverbank Review Children’s Books of Distinction
  •          Book Sense 76 Top 10 Picks
  •          Horn Book Fanfare
  •          Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books – Bulletin Blue Ribbons
  •          Booklist Editors’ Choice

In the future, most people are equipped with the feed – a constant internet presence in their brain. After falling for a girl with a malfunctioning feed, Titus becomes aware of how it influences everything in his world.

What if you could have the internet in your brain, 24/7? You could chat with your friends whenever you wanted, watch shows, listen to music, go shopping, and look up anything you wanted to know (with nonstop ads, of course). This is the world that Titus has always known – he’s had the feed since he was little.

Titus goes to the moon with his friends for spring break, where he meets Violet, a beautiful and quiet girl. While at a club, they are attacked by a hacker, who floods their feeds with images and forces them all to broadcast the message “We enter a time of calamity!” The police arrive, they are taken to the hospital, everything is fine. Well, except for Violet. She hadn’t gotten the feed until she was older, because it was so expensive, and now her feed is malfunctioning. The feed affects your entire system – once you have it, you can’t live without it.

Titus had never questioned the feed before, but now he’s learning that his life of ease has a price. What is the cost of life with a Feed?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Teen Perspectives on Science Fiction

(image via O Palsson)

“I love it when good authors get to create who new people and civilizations. I love the politics of sci/fi-fantasy and how the genre allows the others to make social commentaries without being too obvious.” – Liam, 17

“Fantasy and Sci-Fi is my ultimate favs since I hate being realistic and imagination outside of this world is just awesome!” – Elrize, 16.

What do you like about the sci-fi genre? What's your perspective?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gravel Queen by Tea Benduhn

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Benduhn, Tea. Gravel Queen. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003. Print.

  •          2003 Lambda Literary Award Nominee (Children's/Young Adult)

Sixteen year old Aurin just wants to spend a summer hanging out with her friends, but when she meets Neila, her heart makes other plans.

Have you ever had feelings for someone that you can’t really explain? Aurin is ready for another lazy summer with her friends Kenney and Jack until a new girl shows up at the park. She’s not sure what it is, but there is just something about that girl that Aurin can’t get over.

Aurin is ready to be frustrated Kenney for forcing the three of them into another one of her inescapable plans. Ballroom dancing lessons are not Aurin’s idea of a good time. Her feelings change though, when she sees her mystery girl walk into the room.  Neila’s halo of yellow hair, her smooth brown skin, her gravelly voice – Aurin could spend all day thinking about her. Could she be falling in love?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale

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Hale, Shannon and Dean Hale (writ.), Nathan Hale (ill.). Rapunzel’s Revenge. New York: Bloomsbury U.S.A., 2008. Print.

  •          ALA Notable Children's Book (ALA)
  •          Amelia Bloomer Project Selection (ALA)
  •          Al Roker Today Show Book Club Pick
  •          Cybils Award (Graphic Novels)
  •          Great Graphic Novels for Teens (YALSA)
  •          IndieBound Next Pick
  •          Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (YALSA)
  •          Texas Maverick Graphic Novel List
  •          Utah Book Award
  •          Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee

The classic fairytale Rapunzel is rewritten as a spunky, empowered teen looking to free her real mother and fight against the evil, magic Mother Gothel in this fun graphic novel.

You might think you know Rapunzel’s story – long hair, locked in a tower, saved by a prince. But what happens if Rapunzel decides she can do it on her own? This Rapunzel doesn’t sit around and wait for anyone – she’s going to save herself. This graphic novel mixes magic, adventure, heroism, action, and classic fairytales in a fun, page-turning read.

See if you can spot all the fairytale references hidden in the story! Once Rapunzel breaks herself free, how will she find her real mother and defeat the evil Mother Gothel. You’ll want to find out the true meaning of Rapunzel’s Revenge

(video by Alex Smith at

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

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Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys. New York: Simon & Shuster, 2001. Print.

  •            Abraham Lincoln Book Award Master List (IL)
  •           ALA Best Books For Young Adults
  •            Children's Literature Choice List

Three high school boys deal with coming out, their senior year of high school, and their plans for the future.

Jason loves his girlfriend Debra, but he can’t get boys off the brain. When he goes to the Rainbow Youth group meeting, he sees Kyle and Nelson from his high school. Great. He knew it was a mistake. Now everyone at school will know he’s – what, exactly? Jason isn’t even sure himself. Kyle couldn’t believe Jason, basketball superstar and his biggest crush, might be into guys. Does he even stand a chance? Nelson isn’t sure why seeing the way Kyle reacted to Jason is making him so emotional. Nelson and Kyle are gay, and they’re best friends, but it’s not like they’re in love with each other. Right?

Jason, Kyle, and Nelson take turns narrating chapters as they go through their senior year of high school, figure out who they are and who they love, and deal with coming out to their families and classmates. What will the future hold for these Rainbow Boys?

(Be sure to check out the back of the book for resources on starting a Gay-Straight Alliance, support lines, and sexual health.)

Teen perspective:
“[The book is] based on 3 teens who are my age, just starting to go to uni, having new life experiences, probably one of the most informative LGBTQ books I've read in the past.” – Sam, 17.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Teen Perspectives on LGBTQ Lit

(image via FredoAlvarez)

“[I read it] because I find it interesting. I look for queer literature specifically because if I just pick a book at random it seems likely that it will just be about straight/cis people etc.” – Imogen, 16

“They are fun to read because you can actually relate to the character(s).” – Madison, 14.

“It helps me to read about relationships I can relate to, and it helped me come to terms with my sexuality.” – Rosie, 17.

What do you like about LGBTQ lit? What's your perspective?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage Books, 1984. Print.

  •          1985, Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award
A young Latina girl talks about her family and Chicago neighborhood in a series of short vignettes.

“We didn’t always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can’t remember. But what I remember most is moving a lot. Each time it seemed there’d be one more of us. By the time we got to Mango Street we were six – Mama, Papa, Carlos, Kiki, my sister Nenny and me.” (3)

Esperanza is just becoming a woman. She spends her days with her younger sister Nenny and her girlfriends from the street. She shares stories about the people in her Chicago neighborhood: the old man who owns the junk shop; Elinita, the witch woman; Rosa Vargas and all her children. The chapters are little stories on their own, but they add up to create a picture of the people and neighborhood she loves and calls home. She talks about getting hips, and her plans to get to eat lunch at school, instead of at home, and lying about her age to get her first job. Her world is full and lush, and even though she is telling her stories, you can see parts of your own life in them too.

(video by jemurillo93 at

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

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Levithan, David. Boy Meets Boy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. Print.

  •   2003, Lambda Literary Award, Children/Young Adult
  •   ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
  •   ALA Quick Pick

Paul meets Noah, the new boy at his high school, and their initial affection blossoms slowly into love.

Paul is a high school sophomore, and has been out since his kindergarten teacher wrote that he was “definitely gay and has a very good sense of self” on his report card. He has a loving family, and a fantastic group of friends. There’s Joni, his best friend since first grade, Tony, who is living his life despite his Christian parents disapproval, and Infinite Darlene, the sassy star quarterback and homecoming queen. When he meets Noah, a senior, sparks fly. It’s like a movie, how easily they understand each other, and how much they enjoy each other’s company. The record skips a beat when Paul’s ex, Kyle, says hello in the hall after months of silence. What does he want? What does it all mean? Things aren’t always easy when Boy Meets Boy.

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon

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Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. Print.

  •          2006, ALA Alex Awards Winner
  •          2006, ALA Top Ten Books for Young Adults

While one serves time in prison, a teen couple communicates their lives and keeps their relationship alive through letters.

How long can a relationship last when you know you will be apart for a long time?

Antonio is in jail for killing his father. Sometimes it feels like his girlfriend, Natasha, is all he can count on. They write letters back and forth, but things change so fast when you are only 17. Antonio is trying hard to make himself the man he wants to be for himself and Natasha, working on his GED, and trying to stay out of trouble in prison. Natasha wants to figure out how to do something for Natasha for once, studying more so she can go to college and live a different life. Can their relationship survive while Antonio is Upstate?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

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Von Ziegesar, Cecily. Gossip Girl. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002. Print.

An anonymous blogger narrates the exploits of New York City’s young society elite in Gossip Girl, the first book in the series of the same name.

The legendary Serena van der Woodsen got kicked out of boarding school, and she is back in NYC. The rumors are swirling about why, just the way we like it. Blair Waldorf, her former BFF, has to spend some of her valuable party-planning time to keep Serena away from her charming boyfriend, Nate. These Upper East Side prep school seniors are young, rich, and beautiful – and they know it. Everyone wants to know what’s going on at their parties and in their bedrooms, and I’ve got all the juicy details.

You know you love me,
Gossip Girl.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teen Perspectives on Fantasy

(image via Michelle Hyacinth)

“It helps to escape to a world where anything is possible. Every once in a while at least.” – Marcel, 19.

“There is infinite possibility within the fantasy genre.” – Gabrielle, 18.

What do you love about the fantasy genre? What's your perspective?