Category Archives: GLBTQ

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

darkest-part-of-the-forestHappy Teen Tech Week, everybody!  Before I get to the actual audiobook review, I would just like to take a moment to remind y’all that public libraries are about WAY more than just books.  Of course we lend out books and audiobooks — but we also lend music, movies, and video games.  Many public libraries even lend e-books and downloadable audiobooks FOR FREE via OverDrive.com!  As someone who listens to audiobooks ravenously, always has an ebook waiting on her Kindle, and is cheaper than cheap, this service is something I’m thrilled to take advantage of and to share with my library patrons and blog readers.  (There are even streaming video and magazines available now on OverDrive, though I haven’t fully explored those options yet.)   But, I digress.
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Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

BelzharAs the outgoing President of the Youth Services Section of the NY Library Association, I had the honor of sitting at the head table for the 2014 YSS Empire State Award Luncheon.  During the luncheon, the ESA winner, Jacqueline Woodson, was discussing some of the books she had read recently and could not stop gushing about Belzhar.  (I didn’t realize at the time that she was also the featured blurb on the back of the book, but she had me sold.)  I somehow managed to forget to add a request on the book when I returned to work, though.  Fortunately, a colleague put Belzhar on the “Staff Picks” display last week and my friend [upon seeing it on display] asked whether I had read it yet.  I said that I didn’t yet but certainly planned on it.  She insisted that I take it home RIGHT THEN so that she would have someone with whom she could discuss the ending. Well, I picked it up for a “short” reading break yesterday afternoon, and I read more than half the book.  I had to stop reading to eat dinner and to read bedtime stories with my kids, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Belzhar and had to finish reading it before I could go to sleep!   Continue reading

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

ask the passengersWhen Astrid Jones and her family moved from New York City to Unity Valley, PA, none of them quite realized how drastically their lives would change.  Astrid’s mom became so concerned with how other people saw her and so controlling that it seemed nothing Astrid did was ever even close to good enough.  Her little sister, Ellis, was so concerned with popularity and upholding her reputation that she’d probably have disowned Astrid if it would have guaranteed her immunity from the rumor mill.  This apparently pleased her mom, though, since she frequently invited Ellis to “mommy and me” nights out.  And their dad?  When he wasn’t moping about his lack of job prospects and smoking pot in the garage or attic, he seemed content enough to sit silently while his wife belittled him in front of the kids. Continue reading

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

AfterworldsSo, I know I just posted a review of another book last night, but this book was so AH-MAZING that I just couldn’t stand to think of waiting to review it.  Let’s just look at this as preparation for Thanksgiving, since you’re getting an “extra helping” of YA awesomeness this morning.  I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge how insane I was for waiting so long to read this book.  I was among the first people on the request list, but I ended up sending it back and re-adding my name to the list because it showed up when I was in the middle of another book and didn’t think I would have time to read it then.  Well…  Even though this book was rather large (599 pages), I ended up reading it in ONE WEEK!  Considering the fact that I didn’t have any days off from work and/or caring for my kids, that’s crazy!  But, this book is crazy good, so I went to extremes to stay up late reading.  I’m talking, get up and walk around when I feel my eyelids start to droop or purposely playing Candy Crush before sitting down to read because I know the glow from electronics makes it harder for me to fall asleep.  Yeah.  I’m dedicated like that!  ;-) Continue reading

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

aristotle-and-danteI don’t typically like books that aren’t plot-driven.  Most of the time, I find that books without a plot just drag along.  Well, I can’t truly say this book “doesn’t have a plot”…  I mean, it has a sequence of events and the characters do things over a period of time.  But there’s not a big build up to a climax followed by a tidy resolution as there would be in so many books.  (Which I tend to prefer.)  It’s hard to explain, but I think you probably know what I mean.  Rather than some huge event that the book centers around, it’s just a description of what happens to these two characters over a length of time.  A snapshot of their lives, if you will.  An absolutely beautiful snapshot! Continue reading

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

two-boys-kissingIt wouldn’t be Banned Books Week without a review of a GLBT book, since so many would-be censors take umbrage with the fact that GLBT novels even exist.  So, I am taking this opportunity to finally review a book one of my teens suggested I read during GLBT Pride Month.  The basic premise of this story was that two [gay] boys were attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss.  The strangest thing, though, was that they were not boyfriends.  They were, in fact, ex-boyfriends.  But, Harry and Craig were not kissing merely for the fun of kissing or even just to break the existing world record.  In fact, kissing for 32 hours was a rather grueling experience, both physically and emotionally.  But their 32-hour-long kiss was worth all of the difficulties it presented because it was a statement of support for their mutual friend, Tariq, who was the victim of a hate crime.  Although the “Greek chorus” of narrators — men who had died of AIDS — seemed a bit clunky at times, I think that narration ultimately worked as a means by which to educate younger readers about [late 20th century] GLBT history, the progress the GLBT community has made thus far, and how far we still have to go.  I really enjoyed this story, though I have to admit to shedding a tear or two.  I highly recommend this for fans of other David Levithan books (like Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Every Day) and suspect that it will likely end up on many YA literature syllabi as required GLBT reading.

Happy Banned Books Week!

The Sin-Eater’s Confession by Ilsa J. Bick

sin eaters confessionAfter Del died in a car accident, Ben started helping out on Del’s family’s farm.  While working on the farm, Ben started to look out for and became friends with Del’s younger brother, Jimmy, in a capacity much like an older brother.  After Jimmy was murdered, Ben felt guilty and escaped his home town by enlisting in the armed forces and heading to Afghanistan.  This story is told from Ben’s perspective, in a diary-style letter to someone back home, as he reflects back over the series of events that lead to Jimmy’s death and explains why he feels responsible.  The graphic description of Jimmy’s violent death definitely makes this a book for more mature readers, and I am sure some people would ultimately like to see this book banned.  I think, nevertheless, that this suspense-filled story is a great way to draw in readers who might not otherwise think they’d enjoy a story that explores such heavy themes as homophobia and hate crimes.  A definite departure from the apocalyptic world of Ashes, but equally well written.

Happy Banned Books Week!