Since I posted the not-so-comprehensive LGBTQIA Book List, I’ve done a fair amount of reading, and more excitingly, discovering. Here’s a rundown of all the new books I’ve come across that are definitely worth looking into. (Note that I’ve added the new ones to the soon-to-be-comprehensive LGBTQIA Book List.)
I am J, by Cris Beam
J is a half Jewish, half Puerto Rican, FTM transgender teenager coming out to himself and his family in New York City. I’ve mentioned this book, I’ve read this book, and I’ve raved about this book. Go read it, and the promised review will be forthcoming.
Debbie Harry Sings in French, by Meagan Brothers
Debbie Harry is the main singer of the pop musical group Blondie, and John, a troubled teen sent to live with his uncle Sam, is really really into Debbie Harry. So much so, that he wants to dress like her. And he does!
Don’t ask me how I heard about this book, but it was definitely a welcome surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and even if it’s a little hard to find, do try.
Map of Ireland, by Stephanie Grant
Set in the 1970’s during the first year of the de-segregation of schools in Boston, this story is already unusual and different for being a YA book not set in the present. Not to mention it’s about a young white lesbian teenager who is infatuated with her black teacher, and later, someone else (I don’t want to spoil it!). The elements of class, race, and sexual orientation take center stage here as bluntness overtakes political correctness, creating a compelling and realistic depiction of a time most of us aren’t familiar with.
Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult
You might be familiar with Jodi Picoult and her other bestselling titles. But this story is a little different than the average mainstream novel. Unless you make a point not to read the summaries at the back of the book, the next bit won’t be much of a spoiler. Also, this is one of those books where the actual reading-it is more valuable than the I-know-what’s-going-to-happen.
In the beginning, Max and Zoe are trying to conceive, but due to biological complications, Zoe loses the last embryo implanted through IVF (in vitro fertilization). Their relationship falls apart, resulting in their divorce. Then Zoe meets Vanessa, and they get married, or as married as two women can get in the state of Rhode Island. They decide to start a family, using Zoe’s leftover fertilized eggs. But Max is brainwashed by his conservative brother and his political church, who have a greater agenda. The case goes to public trial, and the rest is a heart-wrenching, teeth clenching, couple hundred pages of pure courtroom drama and personal human stories. In my opinion, the author makes quite a political statement by writing about such a loaded topic, knowing the potential audience for this book might be your average conservative southern mother, not the average young queer liberal.
Huntress, by Malinda Lo
The prequel to Ash (also recommended) takes place in the same world but many centuries before. The book is filled with the same magical details as the first, although this time the plot is much more involved and extreme, going from gruesome violence to painful love. Obviously it’s about two girls falling in love, but that turns out to really be a side story for everything else. If you’re into fantasy, or any fun and adventurous story, this book will certainly keep you entertained.
Passing, by Nella Larson
This book has no LGBTQ content. It’s about two light-skinned black women in the 1920’s, one of whom decides to “pass” as white, keeping her Negro history a secret as she makes a life for herself in the white world. The subject of “passing” has always drawn my attention since I was in elementary school, and in light of my recent interests it’s not too hard to guess why. “Passing” and “going stealth” are concepts that have existed in other times, and apply not just to being transgender. The book is a little slow and there’s not a lot going on, because it was in fact written during the time period it takes place in. If you’d like to expand your horizons and relate to another’s experiences in a completely different way, this will give you something to think about.
In case you missed them, here are the past reviews (I admit it’s a shorter list than I’d like, for now):
If you’ve read any of these books, what did you think? Are there any books that I missed? Any others you’ve found? Please let me know and I’ll add them to my reading list.
I’ll probably write a complete review for some of these, and I’m planning an analysis of transgender characters in YA books, so stay posted.