Tag: LGBTQ

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (InfoSoup)

Riley carefully chooses the right clothes for the first day of public school, probably more carefully than another other teen ever has. Riley’s clothes need to blend in, but Riley has never been good at that, particularly with having a congressman for a father but even more so because being gender fluid makes dressing all the more complicated. When a therapist tells Riley to start a blog and find a cause, Riley starts to write online about what it is really like to be a gender fluid teen. At school, Riley is starting to fit in with new friends and what could be a budding romance if Riley is reading the signs right. But then advice Riley has given to a transgender teen online takes makes the blog go viral and the issue gets national attention. Soon Riley realizes there is a local stalker reading the blog, threatening to reveal Riley’s identity to everyone.

Garvin has managed to write an entire novel without letting readers know the gender that Riley was assigned at birth. It’s a tremendous feat, made all the more amazing because readers will not notice what he is doing. A large part of that is because Riley is an incredibly engaging and extraordinary character, filled with angst about gender but also longing for friends and even a dash of romance. Riley is a blaze of light as a character, burning so brightly on the page that is impossible to look away. This is a book that you read in one long gulp, caught in the world the author has created so vividly. It is a book that dances with disaster, offering a protagonist who is smart, courageous and simply superb.

Garvin deals with a series of serious issues in this novel. He does not shy away from any of it, which makes the book all the more raw and engaging. He shows exactly what being androgynous is like, the bullying and speculation about a person’s gender. He speaks to the tragedy of suicide in the trans population, the hatred that is directed their way, the lack of understanding and even violence by parents. He turns his attention to sexual attacks as well, creating a book that is riveting to read but also very important to have on library shelves.

An impressive, important and glorious teen novel about one gender fluid teen who will let you understand what being gender fluid is about and the courage it takes to be yourself every day. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss.

2016 Rainbow Book List

The Rainbow List celebrates the best books for youth aged birth through 18 that have significant LGBTQ content. Books must have been published between July 2014 and December 2015. Here are their Top Ten books:

Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World Cut Both Ways

Breakthrough by Jack Andraka with Matthew Lysiak

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Fans of the Impossible Life Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Gracefully Grayson The Marvels

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Sex is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings, and YOU Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Sex Is a Funny Word: A Book about Bodies, Feelings and YOU by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

SuperMutant Magic Academy When Everything Feels Like the Movies

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

 

Review: Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

stella brings the family

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

Stella’s class is going to be celebrating Mother’s Day and all of the kids know who they will bring as their special guest.  But Stella has two dads and no mother, so who can she invite? Stella worries and worries about who to bring, and the other kids in her class start to ask her how she manages without a mother to do so much. Stella’s dads take great care of her along with a big extended family who give lots of love and kisses. When Stella talks to her dads about who to bring, they come up with a perfect solution and soon Stella has the largest group at the Mother’s Day party even though none of them are her mother.

Perfect for families of all sorts who may not fit the traditional stereotypical family, this picture book shows how a loving family can create their own unique solutions and fill them with their own joy. Schiffer clearly conveys the worry and stress that a child can feel in this sort of situation, not minimizing the emotional impact. At the same time, she also demonstrates how that can be so easily eliminated by a family that listens to concerns and solves problems in positive ways. This is one empowering story that many families will relate to.

The illustrations are filled with children of all races and the story also includes a family with two mothers. On the day of the party, there are also grandmothers there, speaking to that issue of working parents who may not be able to be there either. The inclusive art has a warmth to it that is conveyed by the caring adults and the brightly hued illustrations.

All public libraries need more picture book that embrace gay families, so this is a great pick for strengthening those collections. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

Lambda Literary Award Finalists

The finalists for the 2015 Lammys have been announced. There are many categories to this award, and one of them is LGBT Children’s/Young Adult books.  Here are the finalists in that category:

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out Double Exposure

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before

Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle

Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Lies We Tell Ourselves Pukawiss The Outcast

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke

This is Not a Love Story (Love Story Universe) When Everything Feels like the Movies

This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

2015 Rainbow List

The Rainbow Project is a joint project of the ALA Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table and Social Responsibilities Round Table.  Each year they select The Rainbow List, books with “significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender content, and which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18.” 

Here is their Top Ten list:

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World Far From You

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World by Janet E. Cameron

Far from You by Tess Sharpe

Grasshopper Jungle I'll Give You the Sun

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Not Every Princess Secret City

Not Every Princess by Jeffrey Bone and Lisa Bone

Secret City by Julia Watts

Sweet Tooth Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

Sweet Tooth by Tim Anderson

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

This Day in June We Are The Youth

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten

We Are the Youth: Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth in the United States by Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl

Review: Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

gracefully grayson

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

Grayson lives with his aunt, uncle and cousins after his parents died when he was much younger.  Middle school is hard.  Grayson doesn’t have friends, eating his lunch in the library rather than the cafeteria.  He rarely does anything more than go to school and return home again.  After school, Grayson has time on his own before the others get home and he spends his time in front of the mirror dreaming of wearing a dress and being a princess.  It’s a fantasy he quickly puts away when the others come home, returning once again to being a boy in a long t-shirt and jeans.  Then one day, Grayson decides to go out for the school play.  And when he auditions, he tries out for the role of Persephone.  What will happen if he gets cast as the female lead and is no longer invisible?

Polonsky has created a critical book for middle-graders about the experience of being transgender in middle school.  She hits just the right tone of lightness and seriousness, allowing the story of Grayson to unfold naturally and beautifully on the page.  The reader learns along with Grayson what he is really feeling inside, how he wishes to express it, and also how incredibly brave he is.  He’s an incredible character, one that is relatable and inspiring.

Polonsky also does not duck away from negative reactions to Grayson.  In Grayson’s aunt, readers will see an adult who is struggling to understand someone who is transgender.  She seeks to protect Grayson from bullies by hiding what he truly is and goes after the teacher who is helping Grayson express who he is on the inside.  There are also bullies at Grayson’s school who play a part in his isolation.   Yet there are also heroes among the students as well as Grayson’s uncle who is supportive.  It’s a strong mix of reactions, showing that while there is hate there is also love and support.

An important book for middle-grade children about being transgender and being true to yourself.  Appropriate for ages 10-13.

Reviewed from library copy.