Tag Archives: Young-adult fiction

BTT: Age Appropriate

Cover of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid"

Cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Do you read books “meant” for other age groups? Adult books when you were a child; Young-Adult books now that you’re grown; Picture books just for kicks … You know … books not “meant” for you. Or do you pretty much stick to what’s written for people your age?

Today’s Booking Through Thursday question is one I’ve actually thought about before throughout my reading life.

As a kid, I often read books that were appropriate for where I was with my reading skills, but were not at all appropriate for me emotionally or developmentally. So I ended up reading books like Catcher in the Rye way before I was really ready for them, which spoiled me on some amazing books I could only appreciate after re-reading them. I’m trying to avoid this mistake with my own kids, because with some of my favorites, I want the introduction to go perfectly.

Now, I rarely read young adult or picture books for pleasure unless I am reading them with or for my own children. By “for,” I mean that when my kids are reading something I’m not familiar with, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, I try to read either one book in a series, or a single book, so I know what they are reading. Books have always been such a huge influence on me that I want to know what might be influencing my own kids.

I’m trying to read more YA lit because I think my students might be (or should be) reading it, and I’ve found some good examples of ones I would absolutely want my students, or some day my own children, to read. But just for pleasure? Never occurs to me.

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Filed under Booking Through Thursday, Children's and YA Literature, The Family That Reads

Review: Boy Meets Boy

Cover of "Boy Meets Boy"

Cover of Boy Meets Boy

For my list in the GLBT challenge, I decided to go for a mix of adult and YA literature, because one of other ambitions with this challenge was to have start developing a list of books I could recommend to my students, as my school’s GSA adviser. The only area of my reading that might be more underdeveloped than GLBT fiction is contemporary YA!

Luckily, one of the books I placed on my list was Boy Meets Boy, one of the most charming teenage love stories I’ve read in many years, if not ever. I’d recommend it not only for gay and lesbian teens, but for adults, teachers, writers, and readers; basically, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

We see the entire novel through the eyes of Paul, a boy so confident in his sexuality that a kindergarten teacher notes it on his report card. If the possibility of any teacher doing so strikes you as highly unusual, then you are ready to enter Paul’s world, in a small town where the homecoming queen is also a drag queen who plays on the football team, Boy Scouts have been renamed “Joy Scouts,” and gay couples kiss in the school hallways. Paul begins the novel with an ex-boyfriend who ignores him, but he quickly finds himself in the middle of a love triangle with Kyle, his ex, and Noah, the new boy in school who carries a camera everywhere. This drama plays out in parallel with Joni, Paul’s straight best friend who soon finds herself in a love triangle of her own that includes a controlling new boyfriend who’s recovering from his crush on Infinite Darlene, the aforementioned homecoming/drag queen.

In some ways, the novel follows classic conventions: much of the plot builds up to the big school dance at the end, there’s lots of romantic confusion that ends happily, teen culture is all-consuming, any sexual activity stops at kissing. Pop culture references abound, from The Advocate to The Breakfast Club. But when you consider that a lot of this romantic confusion is happening amongst boys, openly gay and bisexual adolescent males, you begin to see what a subversive book it actually is, in the best possible meaning of the term.  The scenes where Kyle confesses his sexual ambivalence to Paul are moving, and the scenes where Paul has to win back Noah with a week of romantic wooing are just pitch-perfect and delicious.

Is everything perfect in Paul’s world? Not at all; another plot line is focused on Paul’s friend Tony, who lives in a nearby town with religious parents who are petrified at the possibility of their son being gay. This plot line is handled extremely well, and while Tony and his parent make some progress over the course of the book, it serves as a way to keep the story somewhat grounded in the world the novel’s readers might recognize.

I can’t wait to recommend this novel to students, but even more, I would love to see it on the shelves of every school and public library, waiting for the right kid (or adult) to discover it.

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Filed under Children's and YA Literature, GLBT Literature Challenge, reviews

Books for Young Feminists

As my girls hurtle towards the rocky shoals of middle school, notably perilous for young females everywhere, I welcome any help, from anywhere, especially in giving my girls some role models, some potential assists in the self-esteem arena.

Leave it to Bitch magazine to help me out, recently posting a wonderful list of 100 young adult books for feminist readers.

Now, there are definitely some old classics there from the Judy Blume school, but as a reader who stopped keeping up with YA once I wasn’t a YA anymore, there are plenty of titles on this list I don’t recognize and am excited to introduce to my girls in the next few years.

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Filed under Children's and YA Literature, The Family That Reads