Tag Archives: books

What am I willing to share?

1 Jun

A year or two ago, I got into a kick of reading primarily young adult literature over that written for adults. It’s not that I think one is better than the other, but YA lit has the tendency to do a lot more identity-exploring than adult lit, and I find that interesting.

I’m currently crawling through the beginning of writing a book I want to try to get published. This is something I have wanted to do since I was about three years old, so it’s a long time coming. It’s YA, and because I want to write in YA and I like reading there, I’ve started following a fair number of YA-focused blogs. A little for advice, but mostly for book reviews.

(Obligatory recs: Check out YA Highway for general news, reviews, and advice. Intergalactic Academy is awesome for sci-fi reviews. Seriously. Go read it now. Although their light-text-on-dark-background layout may make it easier to read in a feed like Google Reader.)

One of the blogs I follow is Malinda Lo’s, and she just wrote about YA Pride Month. Basically, taking the US’s general Pride Month of June and focusing on it through a lens of YA lit. The part I found most interesting in her post (and that makes it worth mentioning on this blog) is a footnote about how Lo will be interviewing authors writing YA novels with LGBT main characters. The book I am working on now has queer main characters so it caught my eye.

I decided that in my YA Pride series I wanted to mostly invite writers who identify as LGBT to be interviewed or guest post for my site. While I don’t believe one needs to identify as LGBT in order to write about LGBT people, I also feel that there is value in supporting LGBT writers. In the interests of full disclosure, I have had trouble finding transgender-identified YA writers to participate in this series, simply because there are so few of them. I haven’t finished my search for contributors yet, and I may still be able to find a trans YA writer to participate, but if I don’t, the reason is not because I didn’t attempt to find one; it’s because we need more of them.

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27 May

Finally got the time to cobble together the list of LGBTQA young adult books I read for my class last semester. I attempted not to be too incredibly spoilery when writing the comments and summaries.

Also: Sometimes I didn’t write the original annotations right away and didn’t have the books anymore, but I tried to include comprehensive trigger warnings. And … sometimes a book has a ton of trigger warnings but is not actually the most crushing thing you’ll ever read (ex. Freak Show).

I tried to keep the summaries non-explicit, but in describing plots and listing trigger warnings with books, there is some potentially triggery material in this post. So I’m including a comprehensive list before the cut.

Trigger warnings for all ten books (both these things and discussions of these things): abandonment, ableism, abuse of medical patients, alcoholism, anti-gay, anti-trans, bullying, child abuse, child molestation, child pornography, cutting, death, discussions of a transgender character’s suicide, disowning, eating disorders, ex-gay rhetoric, forced commitment to a medical facility, gay bashing, a parent’s death, partner pressure to have sex, rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, a trans bashing, unethical drug experiments, and violence.

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A word in “The God Box”

19 Feb

I recently read The God Box by Alex Sanchez for a class project. Sanchez’s book is about a kid named Paul who lives in a conservative Texas town. Manuel, who’s openly gay, moves in, and Paul suddenly has to deal with a Christian who doesn’t interpret the Bible as hating gay people. The story follows Paul’s crisis of faith and identity.

The whole book I anticipated the revelation to come in the form of “everyone experiences sexual attraction, and some people are built to be attracted to certain people,” but it was much more just about how Paul and Manuel weren’t going to Hell. I don’t think it ever stated that everyone has sexual attraction to deal with, which I really appreciated.

Page 152, Paul is talking to Manuel about whether being gay is wrong, which he does a lot. Paul’s mentioned the ex-gay guy who suggested Paul follow the ex-gay ways too. (Bolding mine. My layout italicizes all of the blockquote, but “were” and the “a-” were originally italicized.)

“If somebody is unhappy being gay,” Manuel proceeded, “they can try to get involved with the opposite sex, or just not have sex at all. But why judge and try to ‘save’ others rather than just accept that everyone is different? Even if sexual orientation were a choice, aren’t we a country where we’re supposed to be free to pursue our happiness, whether we’re hetero-, homo-, bi-, trans-, or even a-sexual?”

I admit I got all tingly. A mention! Which is enough for someone thinking “I’m not like Paul and Manuel, but I’m not like the straight characters, either” to make a Google search. I think that the context of the word in this book is legitimizing, even though they don’t talk about it again. They don’t talk about bisexuality or being transgender either, but they don’t dismiss any of them.

[ETA: pianycist has pointed out that Sanchez might’ve meant asexual as in gender, not sexuality, which didn’t even occur to me! I wonder if I’d identified as neutrois for longer than I have if that would’ve jumped out at me as a gender thing instead of a sexuality thing. Hmm. This is one thing that would come from reading books alone, I guess, although hey, the Internet is probably more knowledgable on this subject than any of my English classes would’ve been. And probably my current class too.]

It is kind of sad that the most I have to get excited about is one word in an entire novel. But people still don’t really know about asexuality, and at this point, it seems like there are very few nonasexual people who have a grasp of the asexual community. I can think of one explicitly self-identified asexual character — someone on the canceled series Huge, which I never got around to watching. And there are a lot of problematic elements with how asexual characters are treated in media; there’s so often an “alien” or “sociopath” element to them.

So for now at least, it seems we’re going to have to tell our own stories. Asexual perspectives telling asexual stories means that things will be more authentic, of course, but it also limits the available pool of authors. In the meantime I’ll still get excited at little mentions like this.

(And if you’re thinking of reading it, I feel obligated to warn you that The God Box has some triggery stuff: homophobia, hateful language, bullying, harassment, a gay bashing, and ableist talk — “crazy”, etc. — from most of the characters. There’s also discussions and/or mentions of parental death, alcoholism, rape, suicide, child abuse, and the ex-gay movement. Despite all of this there was a happy ending, though.)