Book 16: The Heart Has Its Reasons, Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004
By Michael Cart, Christine A. Jenkins (hardback, non-fiction)
- This was an excellent book, and a good read for anyone who is a) writing for teens b)stocking a YA section of a library, or c) in any position to influence the reading material of teenagers. It goes over numerous titles with LGBTQ content, examining it for their triumphs (positive portrayals, good writing, reassuring content etc.) or failures (the frequent equation of homosexuality=death, stereotypes, didacticism etc.). Its one failing was that the authors either don’t know about, or decide not to make, the distinction between authors and publishers when complaining about the quality of LGBTQ YA lit, or the lack of it that was published. I’m certain that there were a lot more novels written during this period with positive content then were published, but publishers are notorious for their mistrust of anything new, and they very carefully screen what the publish not only for quality but for its perceived marketability. Other than that, I highly recommend.
Book 17-18: The Circle of Magic, Books 3-4
By Tamora Pierce (paperback, reread)
- Ah, I forgot how much I loved ‘Briar’s Book’ (#4) in this series. It is both heartwrenching and heartwarming in how she shows Briar’s love of his teacher and the effects of a plague on this rather non-traditional family. I also kind of love how, rereading it now, I can see all the hints Pierce puts in that Lark and Rosethorn are partners. Though I know a lot of people get annoyed about how coy authors are about putting in homosexuality, I also know that there are very few publishers who will allow ‘such things’ in mainstream books meant for young readers (these books are usually shelved for 9-12 yo). It’s actually amazing how much she does get away with, plus in Will of the Empress she comes right out and says it. Pierce might not be specifically writing for LGBTQ teens, but she makes it known in her writing that queer is ok – an important message that a lot more books need to put in for teens.
Book 19: Ash
By Malinda Lo (hardback)
- One of the books I pulled from the library in my search for YA LGBTQ books in order to educate myself on the genre I unwittingly got myself involved in. I enjoyed reading it well enough, I suppose. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t so deep into writers mode. On one hand, I want to shove this book onto any teen girl who is in love with Edward Cullen. Lo beautifully weaves Ash’s attraction to Sidhean, a mysterious fairy man and her pull into the fairy realm with her new-found friendship with Kaisa, the huntress. Sidhean is pretty much exactly like Edward – ‘mysterious’ ‘alluring’ ‘unearthly beauty’… complete stalker. And Ash ultimately makes the right choice here, creating the idea that you can’t live in a fairy-tale all your life. However, this story would have been better served by the characters having personalities. Yeah… When I’m writing, I find that if I don’t have a good enough idea of who a character is they become what I call ‘Tolkien puppets’. They talk in that overly formalized manner that Tolkien characters talk in and act like puppets with-in the story, their motives wishy-washy and their reactions to events are flat and non-engaging. Lo’s characters are Tolkien puppets.
Book 20: The Circle Opens: Magic Steps
By Tamora Pierce (paperback, reread)
- Not kidding when I said that I’m probably going to reread all of the Tamora Pierce books. This one is actually probably one of my least favourites of hers, now that I think about it. I still love it, compared to the masses of trash that is available for teen readers, but Sandry was never the most compelling character of the four. She’s too Mary Sue, and she doesn’t have the kind of dynamic relationship with her teacher that the other three create with theirs. Honestly the best part about reading this book is now I get to read Street Magic, which was my first TP book, and is still one of my favourites. Briar and Rosethorn are the best.