These should also appear in the ever-growing up-to-date LGBTQIA Reading List.
LGBTQ-themed Fiction and such (Adult)
Blue Boy, by Rakesh Satyal
The author writes a fictional auto-biographical account (that is, it’s completely made up, but liberally based on his childhood) about Kieran, a young Indian boy growing up in Cincinnati. His school is predominantly white, while his family still very much bound by Hindu traditions. Kieran might or might not be gay, though he does carry around a Strawberry Shortcake doll in his pocket, even if he’s 11 and probably too old for it.
I often can’t tell how long books are, because I use a Kindle, but when I don’t finish it in a handful of sittings it’s a longer book than normal. This book is long, but it’s refreshing to read a long, adult book for a change. The characters and story have much more depth and richness than a YA book ever could. Whether it was good or great I’m still on the fence, but it’s a good enough read that I’d recommend.
I Can’t Think Straight and Despite the Falling Snow, by Shamim Sarif
I read both of these during and after my top surgery, and they kept me well entertained so as to forget my uncomfortable physical state. Even though I had previously watched the movie for I Can’t Think Straight, the images for Despite the Falling Snow were just as vivid as if I had seen a movie. The first book is a bit lighter, while the second has a much slower pace, one that begs for taking the chapters in between sips of warm tea. (Note that I am grouping the books by author, they are not at all related nor a series).
Shamim Sarif is a wonderful storyteller. There is always a familiar camaraderie with the various characters, intermixed with different points of view, weaving complex revelations with comprehensive emotions. There is yet another book, The World Unseen, which I look forward to reading.
The Perfect Family, by Kathryn Shay
Jamie, a sophomore in high school, comes out to his mom and subsequently, the rest of his family, including his religious (Catholic) father and older jock brother. No, thankfully it’s not the depressing drama-fest you’d expect and nobody gets kicked out of the house. The focus is on the mom trying to keep her family together as each member lovingly – yes, with love – tries to work through their issues surrounding “gay.” This includes fighting culturally ingrained scripts, dispelling pre/ill-conceived notions, and obviously dealing with the (very) stereotypical religious institution banter.
Nothing spectacular to it; the writing, the characters, the plot are all pretty vanilla, even a little too drawn out and tedious at times. There is nothing to classify this book specifically as “adult” rather than YA, except that it is told from the perspective of the parent rather than the child, which makes it different. A seemingly ordinary book with a plot that is, unfortunately, still rather relevant. Maybe I’ll give it to my mom someday.
Roses and Thorns, by Chris Anne Wolfe
This is a very outdated lesbian retelling of Beauty and The Beast. Why outdated? Because the main premise of the book is that the “beast” is a woman, who likes women. And….. Yeah that’s it. She’s a “beast” because she’s a lesbian. In 2012 that kind of premise is no longer a big enough conflict to sustain an entire book, unless you add in other stuff. To be fair it was not written in 2012, more like 1990’s ish or earlier. Even so, it wasn’t all that great. Skip it; instead go read Ash by Malinda Lo for an excellent fairy tale retelling (that happens to be queer).
Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult
Lucky me, I’ve written a mini-review about this one as well.
Miss Timmins’ School for Girls, by Nayana Currimbhoy
Set in India in the 1970’s, the mystery of a young woman’s murder (or was it suicide?) is told through the eyes of two very different people. The first narrator we meet is Charu, who has just joinied the ranks of adulthood as well of Miss Timmins’ School as their newest teacher. She’s as inexperienced as she is naive. But surprise, surprise – she falls in love with the other schoolteacher, Miss Prince, the very one who fell (or was pushed?) to her death from a high cliff. The schoolgirls’ multi-colored raincoats, the aromas of Mr. Irani’s restaurant, the strict yet enigmatic Hindu teacher, and the unravelling stories of love and betrayal all enthrall you from the very beginning.
Don’t worry readers, there are no spoilers yet, as you learn all of this in the first few pages. But that’s the essence of the book – while you desperately want to unravel the mystery, you desperately don’t want the book to end either. What a conundrum! This is one of those books I’d label as “sabroso” – it’s one to savor rather than devour. It has certainly been a while since I whole-heartedly enjoyed a book this much.
Santa Olivia and Saints Astray, by Jacqueline Carey
More than three paragraphs no longer constitutes a “mini-review” and thus these two books probably deserve an entire post of their own. That should be enough to say that I quite recommend this series, though if you need more enticement read the plot summary I linked to.
Sword of the Guardian, by Merry Shannon
I think this one also deserves its own page, but here’s a quick preview. The story is about Princess Shasta, a feisty teenager whose life is constantly endangered. Talon is sent to be her guardian, to protect her at all costs, and he takes this so seriously that more than once he risks his life for the princess. But Talon is “really” a girl, and the plotline (and my interest) hinge on this sole point.
On the whole, I’d recommend it, though I seriously want to pick this one apart and take the gender-bending analysis one step further.
Whew, this post took much longer than I thought a simple “list” would take; hence why I broke it up into Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3. But I already knew that going in, so now I’m beating the proverbially dead horse (and I guess I’m the proverbially dead horse and I’m beating myself? This is why I’m never going to be novel-writing material!) At the same time, now I have a hefty list of books, AND reviews, which I can continually reference and keep handy at all times. Best of all, I didn’t even have to dread writing all of those reviews, because by then it was too late. (But I am never EVER doing a round-up of reviews again!)
Hopefully this gives you enough fodder to carry on your queer-reading crusade for the entire year. If you run out, be sure to check out the LGBTQIA Reading List I keep mentioning. Oh my, look at all those books I haven’t read!