A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
So, I jumped at the chance to bring to your attention the wonderful books available in the YA/Teen GLBT range… and then I floundered. I have read precisely TWO! That’s not a particularly brilliant range of material in which to inform is it? I mean, how many heterosexual teen novels have I read? I would guess in the many hundreds (close to thousands if you count the ones I’ve never finished!). I’m supposed to be a children’s expert bookseller… epic fail.
So I did what every “expert” does when they don’t know something… I asked someone who does. Cue Facebook message to my awesome friend Graeme. This post is going to be a little strange I’m afraid. Mostly because it involved a rapid exchange of Facebook messages between me and Graeme and I would much prefer to share with you his thoughts, rather than trying to translate them and make them mine.
Graeme introduced me to my first gay teen book and sold it to me by saying it was “An awesome superhero coming-of-age story, plus gay.” Hero by Perry Moore is the story of Thom, a basketball player and son of an ex-Superhero. This is an amazing book full of warmth and humour and I loved the way Thom and his father interacted and the development of their relationship while at the same time Thom discovered who he was himself. It was full of very much a larger-than-life comic book figures which were utterly fabulous.
The other book I’ve read is a modern take on Cinderella called Ash by Malinda Lo. This is a beautifully written tale, very reminiscent of the age old storytelling with incredible imagery and fabulous characterisation. There are many differences between this tale and Cinderella though but the main one (which only becomes apparent half way through the book) is that the main character, Aisling falls in love with the Huntress rather than the handsome prince.
Okay, those are the only two books I’d read (sorry!!!). So instead of only bringing you half-measures I did a bit of corresponding and it goes like this…
Me: Graeme… HELP ME!
Graeme: Honestly, you are rubbish! Okay, here you go…
1. Boy meets Boy by David Levithan. If you make people read one gay teen book, make it this one. It is utterly the most joyous, lovely, uplifting book ever. It is set in a town where there is no prejudice and no one cares about sexuality and the school quarterback is also the home coming queen… she also gets all the best lines! It’s truly great. Amazing. David Levithan has also written a few others, not quite as excellent though is Wide Awake (maybe only available through USA websites) is very good, it’s about a gay teen couple 80-ish years in the future and the election of the first gay Jewish President… until Kansas starts fucking things up… its good. He’s also written a book called Ely and Naomi’s No Kiss List with a woman called Rachel Cohn which is ok (they also wrote the film Nick and Norah’s Infinate Playlist, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings (very good if you’ve not seen it).
2. Alex Sanchez – The Rainbow Trilogy. Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High and Rainbow Road. All very good – told from 3 very different gay boy’s perspective.
3. Jacqueline Wilson – Kiss – got a good younger gay in it, with a cool main girl too.
4. Brett Hartinger – Geography Club – very good book about a group of gay teens.
5. There was also books called Desire Lines and Boys and the Bees but can’t remember the authors which were good for younger gays.
DO NOT IN ANY WAY recommend the book My Side of the Story by Will Davis. It is just shit.
Me: Oh thank you! I shall give you a big sloppy kiss when we meet up next.
I just realised they were all gay men books… Alex Sanchez’s books main boys are two gay men and one bi guy, also the third one, Rainbow Road has a transgendered male-to-female, and I think Wide Awake has trans folk too… Boy meets Boy has it all… but… no real lesbian’s (only background ones in Rainbow Boys and Boy meets Boy) so… I phoned my lesbian’s who said this…
The main one lesbian teen book is Nancy Garden’s Annie on My Mind, published in 1982, tells the story of two high school girls who fall in love. The novel, which has never been out of print, was a step forward for homosexuality in young adult literature. It was burned by some dickhead Senator after it’d been donated to the local library… I’d check the details though… (I did and sure enough according to Wikipedia copies of the books were burned!!)
Split Screen by Brent Hartinger is supposed to be good, and of course Sugar Rush by Julie Burchill… which makes it the only British gay teen book on the list… hmmm… a niche there one feels… so that’s you got G’s L’s a B and some T’s. 🙂
Now… you do realise your piece is now GLBTQQIAA – that’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, intersex, a-sexual and allies…
So I would just like to thank wonderful Graeme for saving my ass and giving me a VERY long list of GLBTQQIAA books to add to my to-be-read pile. I do hope you add some of them too!